Episcopalians in Connecticut and two Anglican dioceses in Canada are pushing for more latitude in blessing same-sex couples, despite widespread opposition in the worldwide Anglican Communion to gay and lesbian relationships.
In October, delegates to the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut voted 174 to 123 to ask Bishop Andrew Smith to allow clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages. The vote came two weeks after Connecticut’s Supreme Court said it is unconstitutional to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying.
Also in October, Bishop Barry Clarke of the Anglican Church of Canada announced plans to draft rites of blessing in the Diocese of Montreal for gay and lesbian couples who have already married under Canadian civil law.
The Montreal diocese granted permission for clergy to bless same-sex marriages last year but has not initiated the practice, according to the Anglican Journal, the official publication of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The dioceses of Niagara and Huron (Ontario), and an assembly of parishes in British Columbia have passed similar motions without implementing them, according to the journal. The diocese of New Westminster, British Columbia, has permitted the blessings since 2002.
In New York, the state’s high court ruled that the Episcopal Church and Diocese of Rochester are entitled to keep the property of a parish that has seceded and joined another branch of the Anglican Communion.
The Rochester diocese declared All Saints Protestant Episcopal Church “extinct” in 2005 when the parish seceded. That parish now calls itself All Saints Anglican Church and is affiliated with the Anglican Church of the Province of Uganda, in Africa. Dozens of conservative Episcopal parishes and two dioceses have left the Episcopal Church since the 2003 consecration of an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire.
Bishops in the 77-million-member Anglican Communion called for a halt to authorizing rites for same-sex blessings at a meeting last summer in Canterbury, England. Many Anglicans believe homosexual relationships violate biblical morality. (RNS)