The Washington National Cathedral is
preparing to start performing weddings of gay and lesbian couples.
According to the AP, the church will be
among the first Episcopal congregations to implement a new rite of
marriage for LGBT members.
The 106-year-old cathedral has a
storied history steeped in presidential traditions. The cathedral's
foundation stone was laid in the presence of President Theodore
Roosevelt and its last finial was placed in the presence of President
George W. Bush in 1990. It also plays host to presidential inaugural
services. And the funerals of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald
Ford took place at the Washington National Cathedral.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of
visitors tour the structure, the fourth largest in the District of
Passage of a gay marriage law in
Maryland prompted the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal
bishop of Washington, to begin offering the rite. The diocese
includes the district, where such unions have been legal since 2010,
and four counties in Maryland.
The cathedral's dean, Very Rev. Gary
Hall, told the AP that offering the right is an opportunity to build
a community “that reflects the diversity of God's world.”
“I read the Bible as seriously as
fundamentalists do,” he said. “And my reading of the Bible leads
me to want to do this because I think it's being faithful to the kind
of community that Jesus would have us be.”
“As a kind of tall-steeple, public
church in the nation's capital, by saying we're going to bless
same-sex marriages, conduct same-sex marriages, we are really trying
to take the next step for marriage equality in the nation and in the
culture,” he added.
The Episcopal Church approved creation
of a rite for gay unions at its 2009 General Convention, and gave
final approval at last year's convention.