Episcopal church hoping to conduct same-sex marriages

July 10, 2012 6:01:10 PM PDT
An Episcopal church in the Montrose area is now planning to conduct same-sex marriages. It will be among the first in the Episcopal church to do so, but some are against it.

The decision also goes against the wishes of Texas voters. But supporters say it has nothing to do with the law.

Within the Sanctuary of St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Montrose, a historical ceremony will be performed in coming months, something the congregation has debated for decades -- same-sex covenants.

Just beneath Jesus on the cross, St. Stephen's Episcopal rector Lisa Hunt will perform what her church is calling "the blessing of the same-sex covenants."

"It would be an opportunity for the church to be reconciled to people who have given up hope on us, who see us as hypocritical and close-minded and judgmental. I think Christianity has not always shown itself in the best light in these culture wars," Hunt said.

It's expected this summer during the Episcopal Church Convention, a liturgy of same same-sex blessings will be approved. St. Stephen's has been named as the first in Houston to offer the same-sex ceremonies.

"I think it's really critical the Christian church be able to hold up a model of Christian community, that isn't about division, isn't about condemnation and is about compassion and fullness of love," Hunt said.

The same-sex ceremony, some say, is an effort to circumvent what Texas voters approved more than two years ago. Over 70 percent of voters passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

"I totally disagree with them going against with what the voters have done in the form of a constitutional amendment and that is really what they are doing," said Jared Woodfill with the Harris County Republican Party.

However, leaders in the gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender community say this is about the freedom of a church.

"This doesn't have anything to do with the law. Same-sex marriages are not recognized in the state of Texas; if a church wants to recognized a union between two of their parishioners, they are certainly entitled to do that," said Noel Freeman with the Houston GLBT Political Caucus.

Hunt just hopes the blessing serves a much bigger purpose.

"In this discussion, there is a lot of fear and hatred that gets promulgated in the name of the lord, which isn't of God, I think it's of our fear," Hunt said.

Each Episcopal congregation has the authority whether or not to conduct these blessings.

St. Stephens says they will be authorized to offer the ceremony during the advent season, which is about four weeks before Christmas, but are not exactly sure when they will begin offering the blessing.

Couples will be required to attend marriage classes.


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