National Cathedral to marry gay couples


photo via Flickr:

WASHINGTON (RNS) From the Dept. of Significant But Not Surprising, Washington National Cathedral announced it will allow gay and lesbian weddings inside the storied church that has been the site of presidential funerals, inaugural prayer services and other services to mark national milestones.

From the press release:

“Matters of human sexual identity and questions about the Church’s role in blessing lifelong, committed relationships between its members are serious issues around which feelings run high and people of good will can often disagree. It is my hope and prayer that, if all of us open ourselves to the fullness and diversity of our nation’s many voices, we will learn to walk together in a new way as we listen for God’s call to us to be faithful to each other and to God,” said the cathedral’s new dean, the Very Rev. Gary Hall.

Why now? Two reasons. One, the national Episcopal Church has approved formal rites for blessing same-sex unions; clergy will no longer have to adapt the traditional liturgy used for straight couples. Second, the Diocese of Washington includes four suburban counties in Maryland, where voters last November approved gay marriage. There was a sense in the diocese that its mother church shouldn’t do weddings for gay couples from D.C. if gay couples from Maryland couldn’t also join in.

(It’s also worth noting that at least one gay wedding has been held inside the cathedral in recent years; now they’re just making it official)

It’s not a huge surprise — the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Washington have been vocally supportive of gay rights. But the cathedral isn’t just any church. As Michelle Boorstein points out in today’s Washington Post:

The cathedral’s stature and the image of same-sex couples exchanging vows in the soaring Gothic structure visited by a half-million tourists each year is symbolically powerful.

One caveat:

“As a general rule, only couples directly affiliated with the life of the Cathedral—as active, contributing members of the congregation; as alumni or alumnae of the Cathedral schools; as individuals who have made significant volunteer or donor contributions over a period of time; or those judged by the dean to have played an exceptional role in the life of the nation—are eligible to be married at the Cathedral.”

About the author

Kevin Eckstrom

Kevin Eckstrom joined the Religion News Service staff in 2000 and became editor-in-chief in 2006.


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  • Some things to remember:

    1: None of the legal benefits of marriage come from the church, they come from government.

    2: Couples have never needed a church’s approval to obtain a marriage license.

    3: Churches will never be compelled to provide ceremonies for Gay couples, any more than they are compelled to provide ceremonies for Atheist or Jewish or Muslim couples.

    4: While most churches will probably be unwilling to cater to Gay couples, there are plenty of churches that are more welcoming. On the happiest day of their lives, no Gay couple will be interested in having a wedding in a place where they are met with hostility. Fortunately the Episcopal Church welcomes Gay couples.

  • In my openion, gay marriage is a sign of end times. It is unfortunate that those that call themselves men of God are falling away from the truth/grace of God. Unless these people advocating gay marriage don’t believe the Bible to be an inspired word of God. There is no record of God’s approval of same sex marriage in the Bible, except someone has made another translation of the Bible of recent. God should have mercy on us.


    I promise you with absolute, 100% certainty that there will be no “End Times.” But even if the Apocalypse was at hand, why should it worry you? I have no doubt you are confident of your own spiritual redemption. If you believe in a “Rapture,” you will be beamed up to Heaven before anything really bad happens, and once you are there, you will have no remorse for those who are “Left Behind.” You should be THRILLED.

  • In my opinion cherry picking from a 2000 year old fairy tale is one of the stupidest things a person can do,

  • Best opening line from today’s reports on historic decision by Washington Nat’l Cathedral stand for marriage equality: “From the Dept. of Significant But Not Surprising” … AND — as a “cradle Episcopalian” — I rise to celebrate we have moved to the place that such a momentous decsion is INDEED “significant but not surprising.” I love that the “liberty and justice for all” of our core American values connect with “respect the dignity of every human being” of our Episcopal baptismal vows — and am so very proud to be both! Kudos, Dean Hall and Bishop Budde for your leadership … and now time to get to work getting rid of DOMA and bringing equal civil protection to the marriages blessed by the state and the church!

  • What’s right is right…and what’s wrong is wrong…same sex marriage is not a marriage, it’s just wrong. Lord help us, ignorance is not a excuse, read the Holy Bible.

  • I read the Bible, and did you know it condones wearing garments of different thread (We’d all be dead by now), working on Sundays (Should I kill my Papa for gardening his tulips?), and cutting your hair?

    Also, what seems more wrong, two people of the same sex in a loving consenting relationship exchanging vows to be true to one another forever as they live and breathe, or for Britney Spears to have a 55 hour marriage, Newt ‘Toad’ Gingrich to go through more than 3 wives, and for K. Kardashian to spend millions on a ‘celebrity’ marriage only to break it off a few months later?

    If you say gay marriage is more wrong than that, then your logic has more holes than swiss cheese.

    By the way, marriage is ruled by a government, not an ancient book that stupid people use for morals (that book condones rape on several occasions, when selling daughters to slavery). If anything, I use the bible as an example what not to be like; a bigoted, uneducated redneck who is so blind to the way the world works, and how science and logical religion can be integrated.

    The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is about angels getting gang raped, which is terrible. You and other stupid fundies make it out to be about homosexuality, because you can’t handle the fact that we’re not going to burn in hell for letting consenting people marry.

    And one last note, Jesus came to earth to let us know we were to no longer be persecuted. The rules of the OT were written for those who had sinned in the story of the Exodus. Jesus came to say we weren’t punished anymore. And that his sacrifice on the cross freed us from sin. So by blabbering stupid secondary rules from the OT, you are DENYING that Jesus’ crucifixion was the ultimate sacrifice, and insulting his holiness and human spirit.

    And before you spit at me for ‘blasphemy’, I am a Catholic; a dogmatic one. Meaning I believe there is a god, and Christ is my savior.

    Who’s the ignorant one now?

  • Its true that Jesus did die for our sins so all people will be saved. His sacrifice gives us the opportunity to enter heaven with the condition of ones complete commitment to living as he commands us to live. However, thinking that the new testament overthrows laws from the old testament is a common misconception. The laws still apply but by the grace of our savior jesus christ we have the opportunity to ask for forgiveness. otherwise what is the purpose for asking for forgiveness if there is no law.

    It is Stated in the bible that it is an abomination for two people of the same sex to have sexual relations with each other. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is not about angels getting raped although it is part of it. The decision to destroy the cities was made before the angels were on earth.

    it is a sad thing to see the lords grace being used to justify a life of sin. its also sad to see the church going away from true Christianity.

    God bless.

  • Another common misconception is that God wrote the bible himself. Nope. Mortal, imperfect man did. Ancient men, who had no scientific understandings of how sexuality works, thought the world was flat, and that marrying off your daughters to slavery, abuse, and rape was a-ok.

    True Christianity, y’all!

  • I don’t know what’s more revolting: your stupidity or your grammar.
    What people do in the bedroom is none of our business.

    Haha, and you bring your race into this, like I actually give a damn.

  • Yes, and this fairy tale will come true when you kneel before Jesus and say this to him