Here's an exciting development, though it does raise some interesting questions...
The Episcopal Church, which allowed gays and lesbians to become priests sixteen years ago, may soon introduce a rite that would specifically bless same-sex unions.
The liturgy is expected to be approved and with it Episcopalians will become "the first major denomination to endorse such a ritual for homosexual couples."
More after the jump.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the blessing includes phrases similar to those contained in the marriage rite. “I do" and “we have gathered together today" are both in the same-sex blessing as well as an exchange of rings.
Still you won't find the words "husband," "wife," or "marriage."
Sounds a little like "separate, but equal," right?
The LA Times notes that the rite "would acknowledge and bless same-sex unions, but would not sanctify them as marriage in most states."
While churches in state where same-sex marriage is legal have the option of blessing gay marriage, they don't use a formal liturgy.
The church explains their stance on the blessing of same-sex unions in their handbook, called "I Bless You, And You Will Be a Blessing. In it the church committee writes:
“While the liturgy we have developed is not called ‘marriage,’ we recognize significant parallels. Two people publicly make a lifelong, monogamous commitment to one another with the exchange of solemn vows in a ritual that pronounces God’s blessing on their life together.”
Clearly the Episcopal Church is making greater strides than other denominations by formally blessing same-sex unions, but it's notable that these unions aren't offically blessed as "marriages."
Is this a case of separate but equal? And if so, is that a problem or should we simply applaud the church for making an effort?
What's your Instinct?