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WASHINGTON (RNS) One day after the District of Columbia legalized gay marriage, the city’s Episcopal bishop said priests may preside over and bless same-sex civil marriages, but cannot use the denomination’s marriage rites.
“We are of equal value in the eyes of God,” Bishop John Chane said Thursday (March 4), “and any one of use may be called by the Holy Spirit into holy relationships…”
The Episcopal Church voted last summer to allow bishops in states or jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal to “provide generous pastoral response” to same-sex couples, despite widespread opposition to homosexuality in the rest of the global Anglican Communion.
Episcopalians are not yet permitted to use the marriage rites in its Book of Common Prayer for gay couples; Chane did not specify which rites priests should use, but said numerous other blessings are available.
Bishops in Vermont, Massachusetts and Iowa, where gay marriage is also legal, have taken a similar approach.
An Episcopal committee is collecting and developing theological and liturgical resources that could be used to marry same-sex couples. They are scheduled to report to the denomination in 2012.
— Daniel Burke
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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