Saturday, May 09, 2009

Elizabeth Kaeton "Does the Math"

With the groundswell of movement on civil marriage equality, a number of us have been "doing the math" (or getting other people to do it for us!) about how all this impacts the Episcopal Church.

The best summary and reflection comes from our friend Elizabeth Kaeton over at "Telling Secrets" ... well done, Elizabeth (and Barbara!) ... which I want to share here for those with ears to hear:
The Anglican Consultative Council, having met in Kingston, Jamaica, has finished its work. It passed various resolutions, but none of more interest to people in this neighborhood than Resolution ACC-14.

No surprises, really, especially parts c, d and e, to wit:

c. affirms the request of the Windsor Report (2004), adopted at the Primates’ Meetings (2005, 2007 and 2009), and supported at the Lambeth Conference (2008) for the implementation of the agreed moratoria on the Consecration of Bishops living in a same gender union, authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for Same Sex unions and continued interventions in other Provinces;

d. acknowledges the efforts that have been made to hold to the moratoria, gives thanks for the gracious restraint that has been observed in these areas and recognises the deep cost of such restraint;

e. asks that urgent conversations are facilitated with those Provinces where the application of the moratoria gives rise for concern;

A colleague of mine asked, "Okay, so the hill we have to climb in Anaheim just got piled higher. What are we to say to the 'movable middle' (whatever THAT is, anymore) or those bishops who have been drinking the Lambeth Kool-Aid who say 'but the Communion says . . .'?"

Here's my answer: DO THE MATH!

Gay Marriage is now legal in five states: Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa. Massachusetts. and Maine. It has passed the NH legislature and is expected to be signed into law by the Governor.

Gay Rights Activist are predicting a sweep of the North East (little RI) by 2012.

Last month, the D.C. Council overwhelmingly voted in favor of legislation recognizing same-sex marriages from other states as marriage in the District -- a move lauded by lawmakers as a step toward legalizing gay marriage in the city.

President Obama has pledged a full repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which currently guarantees that no state needs to treat a relationship between two people of the same sex as marriage, even if it is considered a marriage in another state, and further directs the Federal Government not to treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

So, to recap: There are five states which allow gay marriage and nine others (California, New Jersey, New Hampshire (marriage pending), Oregon, District of Columbia, Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, and Colorado) have domestic partnerships or civil unions -- with one, New York, on the cusp of marriage equality (and California awaiting their Supreme Court decision on marriage).

If you've been keeping track, that's 15 (one immanently pending) jurisdictions in The United States with some form of marriage equality.

What does that mean for Episcopalians?

There are THIRTY dioceses of the Episcopal Church now have members within their jurisdiction calling on their church to provide pastoral care in the celebration and blessing of their unions.

Don't believe me? Here are the facts:

Jurisdictions with domestic partnership or civil unions

State: California
Dioceses: 6 - California, Northern California, El Camino Real, San Joaquin, Los Angeles, San Diego

State: New Jersey
Diocese: 2 - New Jersey, Newark

State: New Hampshire (marriage pending)
Diocese: 1

State: Oregon
Diocese: 2 - Oregon, Eastern Oregon

State: Washington, DC
Diocese: 1

State: Washington
Diocese: 2 - Spokane, Olympia

State: Hawai'i
Diocese: 1

State: Maryland
Diocese: 2 - Maryland, Easton

State: Colorado
Diocese: 1

Jurisdictions in the U.S. that offer marriage equality to same-sex couples:

State: Massachusetts
Dioceses: 2 - Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts

State: Connecticut
Diocese: 1

State: Vermont
Diocese: 1

State: Iowa
Diocese: 1

State: Maine
Diocese: 1

Jurisdictions with pending marriage equality legislation:

State: New York
Dioceses: 6 - Albany, New York, Central New York, Rochester, Western New York, Long Island


How significant is that?

Well, there are 110 dioceses in The Episcopal Church - which means that 27% or well MORE THAN 1/4 of the Episcopal dioceses are affected by marriage equality.

Like math? Want more?

Look at the latest numbers for Communicants and Average Sunday Attendance. I know. We all know that these are just estimates, but let's work with what we've got.

There are a reported 1,795,325 Communicants in good standing in The Episcopal Church.

The Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) in The Episcopal Church is reported at 768,320.

If you look at the numbers for the 15 affected dioceses, there are a reported 664,166 Communicants.

The Average Sunday Attendance in those diocese is 28,334.

That means that 37% of Communicants in The Episcopal Church as well as those who attend our churches are directly affected by the pastoral concerns of their LGBT members who enjoy the civil right of marriage.

What does any of this have to do with recommendations of the ACC?

A whole lot.

We've been repeatedly asked to understand the contextual realities of the various dioceses and provinces in the World Wide Anglican Communion. And, I think we have made a serious effort to do just that.

It's time, however, to put the sacristy slipper on the other ecclesiastical foot.

The contextual realities of The Episcopal Church are that 27% of our dioceses and 37% of our Communicants in good standing are directly affected by the issue of marriage equality.

Isn't it ironic that the religious community, which has taken the lead on every Civil Rights issue - with the exception of the Americans with Disabilities Act - is woefully lacking in leadership on the issue of Civil Rights for its LGBT citizens?

Are we to turn our backs on this growing pastoral need in the name of unity?

How can we continue to honor the moratorium for authorization of liturgical rites of blessings for same gender couples when more and more states are moving ahead on the issue of civil rights for LGBT people?

I think the answer is obvious: Do the math!

Bottom line for me: Our call to the church gathered in convention will be to challenge it to live up to its pastoral responsiblity to minister to the reality of life "on the ground" in now 30 dioceses of The Episcopal Church. The parallel with women's ordination is a very real one.
In 1972, the church failed to approve the ordination of women because it needed "more time" and because of concerns about relationships in the wider communion. In 1974 we 11 ordained women anyway (and 4 more in 1975 in Washington) so by 1976 women priests were no longer hypothetical -- they were ontological. And the church had to find a way to deal with it. And it did.
Fast forward to 2009. Same sex married couples are no longer hypothetical -- they are ontological. And the church needs to find a way to deal with it. And we will be calling it to do precisely that. In Anaheim. In July. Do THAT math!


SCG said...

Now, this is the kind of math I like! Well done.

Rev. David Justin Lynch said...

The numbers speak volumes. The proper response of the Diocese of Los Angeles to the ACC would be to elect Susan Russell as Suffragan Bishop. Not only is she well qualified, but her election would garner the type of attention the Episcopal Church needs to make a positive theological statement.

IT said...

only slightly O/T, I've started a new blog, Gay Married Californian, to start to tell our stories. Please come on over. Susan, I'd love it if you would tell your story there...

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I didn't know I was such a cute baby ;~). Thanks, Susan. Of course, the 'numbers' are not the whole issue. No Civil Rights issue was won on the basis of numbers.

That being said, the numbers are irrefutable proof that this is an issue of significance for the church and the WWAC. It isn't going away. It won't go away. It will only (Oh, please God), continue to grow.

The bottom line is that, besides being a justice issue, this is, ultimately, an issue of pastoral care. There are significant numbers of people in our church who need the same pastoral care given to other couples who love one another and want to 'fashion their lives together in accordance with the scriptures'.

That we have to make that obvious to the 'chief pastors' in our church is an embarrassment that will confound and outrage our grandchildren and great grandchildren in the same way that slavery and racism confound and produce a sense of outrage in us today.

Muthah+ said...

NY will be dealing with the issue in the Assembly soon. I expect passage in the next couple of years. That will add 6 more dioceses and skoodles of Episcopalians.