WASHINGTON — The Washington National Cathedral announced it will begin celebrating weddings of gay and lesbian couples. The Cathedral is the most visible faith community within the Episcopal Church.
"Today marks another milestone in the Episcopal Church's embrace of all God's children, including LGBT people," said Rev. MacArthur Flournoy, deputy director of Human Rights Campaign's Religion and Faith Program. "Today, the Church sent a simple but powerful message to LGBT Episcopalians — you are loved just the way you are, and for that we embrace you."
Following recent victories for marriage equality across the country and particularly in Maryland and Washington, DC, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral said, "It is now only fitting that the National Cathedral follow suit. We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of Godand doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation."
Since the 1960s, many clergy have provided private blessings to gay and lesbian couples, but the Church had no official practice. Following the 2009 General Convention, the Church said bishops may provide "generous pastoral response" to gay couples, especially in states that allow civil unions or gay marriages. Today's announcement is consistent with the adoption of a new liturgy for blessing same-sex unions at the denomination's General Convention in August.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last Sunday sermon from the Canterbury pulpit of the Cathedral in 1968. In 2004, the state funeral service for President Ronald W. Reagan was held at the Cathedral. President Barack Obama and several other past presidents-elect have been in attendance for the presidential inaugural prayer service held at the Cathedral on Inauguration day.
"The Episcopal Church is one of a growing number of denominations to see a new day in the intersection of faith and sexual orientation and gender identity. This is not only good LGBT people, it is good for the soul of the church," added Rev. Flournoy.