Episcopal Church Ready to Bless Gay Couples

Ritual would be first offered to same-sex couples by a major denomination

By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 6, 2012 6:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Episcopal Church is soon expected to become the first major denomination to offer a ritual designed to bless gay couples. If approved, the rite will sure sound a lot like the marriage liturgy, as it features famed phrases like "we are gathered here today" and "I do" as well as the giving of rings, reports the Los Angeles Times. But what's notable is what you won't hear: the words "marriage," "wife," or "husband." It boils down to a blessing and acknowledgement of the union; it will not sanctify the couple as married in most states.

An Episcopalian commission spent three years fashioning the liturgy, which comes with a script for responses by the congregation and a discussion guide for resistant congregants. "While the liturgy we have developed is not called 'marriage,' we recognize significant parallels," it wrote. Before becoming official, the liturgy must be voted in by church officials. The vote has not been scheduled, but the liturgy is widely predicted to be approved, and a hearing on it will take place tomorrow. "For some people, it's going to be troubling," said a bishop. "For others, it's going to be thrilling."

The ordination and consecration of two Episcopal priests in 2010.
The ordination and consecration of two Episcopal priests in 2010.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Bishops at an Italian Episcopal conference in May, 2012.
Bishops at an Italian Episcopal conference in May, 2012.   (Getty Images)
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