GC77: The Episcopal Church authorizes provisional rites for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships

In a strong mandate vote, the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops and passed Resolution A049: Authorizing Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships.

The voting was done by orders (meaning the votes were counted separately between the Lay Deputies and the Clergy Deputies in the House). The results were as follows:

OrderYesNoDivided%
Lay8619578%
Clergy8522476%

<br>The proceedings were governed by the special resolution X023 which explained the way in which the debate and voting would be carried out. Specifically,

  • Following the introduction of the legislation by the Committee (done by Ruth Meyers), a minority report shall be presented lasting no longer than four minutes. After which, debate shall be limited to 30 minutes.
  • Each speaker shall be limited to two (2) minutes
  • To the extent practicable the Chair shall recognize speakers of opposite views in alternate succession
  • No procedural motion or ammendments shall be in order during the first 15 minutes of debate

A049 had already been debated and passed in the House of Bishops yesterday. All legislation before General Convention must be passed by both Houses in order for it to become law in our Church. So it was time for the House of Deputies to take on this matter and decide for the Church whether or not rites for the blessing of same-gender relationships would be permitted.

Many Deputies, both for and against, spoke before the House. It was pretty amazing to see the decorum displayed among the House as people spoke passionately, yet respectfully, to one another.

Ian Hallas, a Deputy from the Chicago Deputation, made an impassioned plea for passage of this resolution because "his sister deserves the same love that he receives from the Church" (referring to his sister's impending civil union and blessing).

Before we got to the actual vote, there were several procedural requests made which threatened to eat up so much time that the legislative session would have expired without a vote. It was agreed to vote by 'orders', and it was proposed that the various 'resolves' that were included in the Resolution be voted upon separately (which provides for a type of line item veto). But in the end, the Resolution was voted for in its entirety.

The vote results were announced right before the House was called to recess for the day. House members were quiet as the decision was read out. There were no shouts or clapping, nor any outburst that would have been considered insensitive or inappropriate to those present who may not have been in agreement with the outcome. I was very proud of my Church today.

So now the three-year provisional period begins. It will be very interesting to see how the larger Church responds to this. I am very grateful that our General Convention has taken this important step to truly living up to the statement "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!"