It has now been one year since the Supreme Court opened the way for same-sex marriage in California. In the wake of that decision, lower courts have been striking down an array of state prohibitions and barriers to same-sex marriage. As you know, through a provision provided by General Convention 2009, I permitted first blessings of same-sex couples and, after the Supreme Court’s actions, same-sex marriage. At the time, I issued guidelines for you to follow.
While we remain in a provisional time when our canons have not fully caught up to what I believe is an intersection of the movement of the spirit and the understanding of the people, it seems that now is the time to remove any distinction between same-sex marriage and other marriages.
From this date forward, please simply follow the canonical requirements for marriage regardless of the gender of the couple. As part of good practices of collaborative leadership, I encourage you to consult with your vestry before moving forward with same-sex blessings and marriage. You will be well-served by congregational conversation and discernment about same-sex relationship, blessing, and marriage because as you well know, vestry consultation and congregational education are wise whenever you consider significant changes in the congregation. At the risk of stating the obvious, permit me to underscore that in all cases you must determine if there have been previous marriages and if so, follow the procedures I have outlined on our website.
In closing, I want to acknowledge that while the overwhelming majority of the people of our diocese now affirm same-sex marriage, there remain those who thoughtfully disagree with this change. We all must honor their disagreement. Rest assured no clergy person will ever be compelled to perform any marriage that the cleric feels is not appropriate, for any reason.