At first glance, it appears as though the Massachusetts Episcopal Diocese chickened out. According to the Globe, they want to stop marrying couples. This would avoid the heaving and rending of garments over same-sex marriage here.
However, cowardice is not the driving force for many. The church has kicked around 1) the separation of church and state, and 2) turning to the European model of government marriages and church blessings. On the way there, the local diocese's Bishop M. Thomas Shaw had already decreed that his priests can't perform same-sex weddings, but can bless the couple.
This is a pressing issue because the diocese's annual convention will be in three weeks. A motion to stop all weddings will be an agendum for October 28th session of about 800 voting clergy, delegates and laity at Trinity Church.
Historically (cruise the early posts in this blog), Massachusetts has always had a clean separation for marriage. Even as a colony and carried into our constitution and laws, the state performs marriages, keeps the records and says who is married and divorced. Clergy eventually got the same right as justices of the peace and other government officials to sign the state license, but the church marries no one legally here. It's a religious veneer, a crucial aspect to a solid minority, but not the basis of law.
A sponsor of the resolution hones in on the church/state issue. The vote "is for us in the Episcopal Church, but I think it will have ramifications for our brethren in other denominations, by raising issues about our acting as agents of the state," said Rev. Robert (Skip) G. Windsor.
That could be quite a slap at local Roman Catholic and evangelical clergy and functionaries. They like to mingle religious ritual with the government's interest in controlling who can wed, who is wed, who is divorced, and all the related inheritance, tax and other state concerns.
So, bless the Episcopal clergy here if in fact they would like to let the particulates settle from this marriage roil. The current amendment drive to strip state-authorized marriage rights from homosexuals is just such muck in the water of our daily lives.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, same sex marriage, Episcopal