The Episcopal Church has approved
transgender clergy and a blessing rite for gay and lesbian couples
who wish to wed.
The Church deliberated the proposals at
its General Convention, which started Thursday in Indianapolis.
At its last convention in 2009, the
church approved language encouraging bishops in states where gay
nuptials are legal to “provide generous pastoral response” to gay
couples, and okayed the creation of the rite approved on Tuesday.
The rite, titled The Witnessing and
Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant, is not a sacrament and does not
confer “marriage.” The Episcopal Church defines marriage as a
On Monday, the Church's House of
Deputies approved a proposal allowing transgender men and women the
right to become ministers.
The measure adds “gender identity and
expression” to the Church's “non-discrimination canons.” That
is, transgender people could not be excluded as candidates to
The move comes sixteen years after the
2-million member Episcopal Church approved the ordination of openly
gay clergy and nine years after it approved its first openly gay
bishop, the Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Robinson's ordination created a deep
divide between the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and its more
liberal American branch, the Episcopal Church. The elevation of a
second openly gay bishop, Assistant Bishop Mary D. Glasspool, last
year further divided the two churches.
Robinson to retire in 2013.)