In Wisconsin, Episcopalians dither while #lovewins

We knew it was coming. After last summer’s Supreme Court decision and the series of decisions throughout the country throwing out state bans on gay marriage, it was bound to happen in Wisconsin as well. And it did yesterday afternoon.

I’ve documented the conversations at Grace Church and in the Diocese of Milwaukee regarding same sex blessings on this blog. Grace’s public statement of full inclusion is available here: LGBTstatement_revised_01292014. But those conversations occurred with little reference to the larger legal context. We submitted our responses to the Standing Committee’s survey in December and are waiting to hear what other congregations and clergy throughout the diocese had to say.

More telling, perhaps, is the almost total silence around our collective response when gay marriage became a legal reality. In my recollection, I had only one conversation with fellow clergy in the last months about how Episcopalians might proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ’s love when marriage equality became a reality in the state of Wisconsin. My colleague Miranda Hassett and her family went down to the City-County Building last night to be present among the celebrations:

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I’m grateful to her for that.

As Episcopal clergy and as a church, we have painted ourselves into a very small corner. It’s going to be increasingly difficult for our congregations to claim to be open and welcoming to LGBT Christians when we refuse to extend the sacrament of marriage to them. As clergy, we are no longer going to be able to use the excuse that same sex marriage is forbidden in the state constitution when couples approach us to solemnize their vows. In retrospect, it would have been helpful to have had frank conversations about this in the past months. Instead, we dithered and kept our mouths shut.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not pointing the finger anywhere except myself. I dithered, kept my mouth shut, and didn’t raise questions when opportunities presented themselves.

 

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2 thoughts on “In Wisconsin, Episcopalians dither while #lovewins

  1. Strange, isn’t it, that the Episcopal Church has for so long subordinated any spiritual or pastoral position on this issue to “the laws of the state.”

  2. Hello, I am on the national board of Integrity and we learned of the judge’s ruling through the news. Our ability to help in a given area depends largely the willingness of local people to engage us. Just as an example, in Oregon a handful of members, working in cooperation with secular organizers, visited many congregations to talk about this issue, and — when the law changed there — they had an event planned which included not only their diocesan bishop but Gene Robinson.

    If there are folks, including yourself, that would like to engage with us, we would love to be in conversation to see what can be done.

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