While it falls just short of marriage, the Episcopal church has voted to approve “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” for committed same-sex couples. The ceremony includes prayers and the exchange of vows and rings for the couple.
USA Today provides some additional background on the Episcopal church and their long-time support of gay rights. In 2003, Gene Robinson was elected as the first openly gay bishop for the church in the world. This decision caused disagreements by some in the church and caused a split between congregations.
To address concerns from those members who may not yet be supportive of same-sex couples, the resolution includes a “conscience clause”:
Under the new policy, each Episcopal bishop will decide whether to allow the ceremonies in his or her local diocese. A provision dubbed a conscience clause bars any penalties for Episcopalians who oppose its use.
Regardless of your beliefs, this is a step in the right direction. With many religious groups still persecuting same-sex couples, it’s great to see the Episcopal church recognizing the fact that love is love and celebrating that fact across the church.