Saturday, December 06, 2014

Thus Spake the Diocese of Los Angeles on Marriage Equality

This is what it looked like when the question had been called and the main motion -- the "Resolution Regarding Marriage Equality" -- was voted on today at the 119th Convention of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The language of the resolution was simple:
Resolved, that the One Hundred Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles direct that the following resolution be filed with the Secretary of the General Convention for consideration by the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church:
Resolved, the Diocese of Los Angeles urges the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church to take any and all steps necessary to make the Rite of Holy Matrimony available to same-sex couples throughout The Episcopal Church immediately.
Jim White -- the chair of our diocesan deputation to General Convention -- introduced the resolution with these words:
Right Reverend, Sir, on behalf of the entire Deputation to General Convention, I present this Resolution on Marriage Equality. As delegates will see, we have written it as simply as possible, requesting that General Convention “take any and all steps necessary to make the rite of Holy Matrimony available to same-sex couples throughout the Episcopal Church immediately.”

If I may give a brief overview of the sausage factory that is the General Convention legislative process, the bulk of the work is done in General Convention’s legislative committees. Resolutions dealing with the same topic are sent to a single legislative committee to be perfected into a single resolution that eventually makes it to the floor of the Houses. There will be many resolutions on the topic of Marriage Equality at this upcoming Convention, and in fact, the Presiding Officers (the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies) have already announced that there will be a special legislative committee dealing just with the topic of Marriage. That committee will have members who are much better versed in the Canons and Constitution, as well as the rubrics of the Prayer Book, than are most of us are we. For that reason, we have not attempted to tell them how to go about making the necessary changes, rather just expressing our desire that they make them. We’ll leave the nuts and bolts up to them. It is our sincere hope that this Convention does not attempt to amend this resolution with those types of details as we believe that will just muddy the waters.

We should also say that it would have been possible for any three of us to have collaborated and written a Deputy’s resolution, or for 3 of you Bishops to have gotten together and written a Bishop’s resolution. But we felt that this issue was important enough that it should carry the weight of the whole Diocese submitting it. We hope this convention agrees with us that the Diocese of Los Angeles wants to stand on the right side of history and call the Episcopal Church to end marriage discrimination against same-sex couples.
Following that introduction, there was discussion from the floor. About a  half-dozen folks spoke. One senior priest saying how much he hoped we could move this forward and give him what he needed to respond to all couples equally in his parish. One "usual suspect" (every convention has one!) wanted to move an amendment to change "immediately" to "as soon as possible" (seriously!) ... and then muddied the waters a little by conflating the issues of civil marriage and holy matrimony.

As I went to Microphone 2 to clarify that issue, another delegate at Microphone 3 spoke to God having created Adam and Eve for a reason and something about the gay men he knew not being "wired" for marriage.

Jesus gave me the wisdom to stick to what I'd gotten up to say and I so stuck to my clarifying comments. on the work of the Marriage Task Force and the purpose of this resolution -- to add the voice of the Diocese of Los Angeles to those urging the Episcopal Church to move forward on marriage equality at General Convention in Salt Lake City.

We then heard from one delegate to told us if we moved forward on equal marriage for same-sex couples missionaries would be dismembered in Syria. And then, finally, a delegate rose to share that when he and his partner of 35 years were married last year, it would have "meant a lot to them" to have been able to have their church offer them the same rite of Holy Matrimony straight couples received ... and he urged passage of this resolution. And there was much applause. And the question was called. And the resolution was adopted. And we moved on to the next item on the agenda.

And I'll admit to getting a little teary. When Nat, our transitional deacon hugged me and said, "congratulations" I thought about all the water under all the bridges during all those conventions and all the talking-across-the-divides and all the contentious floor fights and reconciliation task forces and compromise resolutions and everything else that got us to this point.

And I had to just pause for a moment and be amazed. And grateful. Tomorrow I'll be back to work on on making today's resolution a reality. But for the moment, I'm grateful just to sit in the gratitude that this is what it looked like when the question had been called and main motion -- the "Resolution Regarding Marriage Equality" -- was voted on today at the 119th Convention of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles.


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Good News!

Jules said...

Well done! Good job, sticking with your plan in the face of temptation! So grateful for your work!

Wayne Hastings said...

I'm happy I was able to attend and witness the event. Thanks, again, for what you do. "An Inch At A Time" indeed, but we're getting there.