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By Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service

A prominent liberal Episcopal church in Pasadena, Calif., says it will allow gay and lesbian couples to marry after the state’s Supreme Court opened civil marriage to same-sex couples starting next month.
The move by All Saints Episcopal Church is likely to fan tensions within the U.S. church and the wider Anglican Communion as Anglican bishops head to England this summer for a high-stakes, once-a-decade summit.
The vestry, or elected leadership, of All Saints voted unanimously Thursday (May 22) to “treat all couples presenting themselves for the rite of marriage equally.” The church currently blesses same-sex relationships.
“As a priest and pastor, I anticipate with great joy strengthening our support of the sanctity of marriage as I marry both gay and straight members and thus more fully live out my ordination vows to nourish all people from the goodness of God’s grace,” said the Rev. J. Edwin Bacon Jr., the church’s pastor.
Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno, a supporter of gay marriage who welcomed the court’s ruling on May 15, could not be reached for comment.
It was not immediately clear if other California parishes would allow same-sex couples to wed.
The Episcopal Church defines marriage between a man and a woman, although some bishops allow same-sex blessings (but not marriages) in their dioceses. A spokeswoman for Episcopal Church headquarters in New York declined to comment.
As All Saints moved to embrace the California court’s May 15 decision, conservatives filed a petition to stay the ruling until Golden State voters are able to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
At the same time, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., said he would reintroduce a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. That proposal had effectively died when Democrats won control of Congress in 2006.
In Massachusetts, the only other state to recognize same-sex marriage, Episcopal Bishop Thomas Shaw has told his priests they may bless those relationships but not officiate in same-sex civil marriages.
And in Canada, which also allows gay marriage, the Anglican Church is studying its internal laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman, and at least three dioceses have asked their bishops to grant permission for priests to perform same-sex weddings.
This is not the first time All Saints has made headlines. Earlier this year, the IRS cleared the parish on charges of improper politicking stemming from a sermon on the eve of the 2004 presidential election.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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