An Update from GC79: Marriage Rite Consideration

Another update from the Rev. Jim McDonald:

There were two resolutions being consider regarding marriage rites. These resolutions were assigned to the special committee appointed to consider whether to make revisions to our prayer book or work to replace it. The committee held hearing to consider a resolution originating form the House of Deputies (HOD), and one originating from the House of Bishops (HOB). The resolution from the HOD would have changed the prayer book liturgies to make them available to all couples by eliminating references to man and woman. Included in that resolution would be changes to the catechism as well in which marriage is defined as being between a woman and a man, focusing instead solely on the covenant relationship of the couple. The other resolution, from the House of Bishops (HOB), would extend the authorized use of the “trail liturgy” for same gender couples. It would require bishops who, as a matter of conscious, do not allow such marriages to make arrangements with another bishop to provided pastoral oversight to priests and churches who wish to perform such marriages.

There was considerable testimony from people in favor of the one proposed from the HOD, in opposition of it, and in favor of the one from the HOB. The HOB resolution was presented as a compromise between those who call for full inclusions of same sex couples and those who have theological concerns about making this change. In the end, the committee voted to amend the HOB resolution and move its adoption. The committee’s amendments approved the current liturgy until the revision of the Book of Common Prayer is complete. Thus, rather than make Prayer Book changes a piece at a time, the committee is proposing that all Prayer Book changes be considered as part of the same process.

Though the proposed amendment does not change the definition of marriage in the Book of Common Prayer, it does give the authority to the rector or minister in change to have use these liturgies in order to allow “all couples to be married in their home church. Thus, couples in diocese whose bishops do not allow such marriages will not have to leave their diocese to get married – if this resolution passes both houses. This resolution is scheduled to be considered on day four of the convention. If passed, it will then be placed on the HOB legislative calendar for its consideration.