The National Cathedral, where America has said goodbye to patriots and welcomed Presidents for 106 years, will now perform weddings for same-sex couples. The Cathedral, which hosts an Episcopalian congregation, announced this morning that it will expand the Christian sacrament of marriage to LGBT couples.
This is a hugely symbolic move that will no doubt bring stinging criticism from the narrow-minded, but The Very Reverend Gary Hall, the dean of the Cathedral, is ready to respond:
“I read the Bible as seriously as fundamentalists do, and my reading of the Bible leads me to want to do this because I think it’s being faithful to the kind of community that Jesus would have us be.”
He expects that the actual congregation will be fine with the new policy but acknowledges that there will be criticism from outside. He points to the reaction to the first same-sex wedding at West Point’s Cadet Chapel last month and that the National Cathedral is even more visible.
Since marriage equality is now the law in Washington D.C. and nearby Maryland, the Cathedral’s officials decided that their diocese, which encompasses both D.C. and four Maryland counties, would offer the ceremony. The Episcopalian Church allows for such autonomous decisions under a “local option,” having pretty much settled the matter with a 111-41 vote in the House of Bishops last year. However, each priest can decide for themselves whether or not to perform the rites.
It will probably be several months to a year before the National Cathedral sees its first same-sex wedding due to the required pre-marriage counseling and a full schedule. Though generally only couples who are already part of the Cathedral will be eligible for the ritual, special requests may be considered.
Rev. Hall is no stranger to performing same-sex weddings, having done so when he was with All Saints Church in Pasadena, California back in the 1990s. The 10th dean of the National Cathedral has always spoken out on issues of public policy and doesn’t expect he will stop anytime soon:
“For us to be able to say we embrace same-sex marriage as a tool for faithful people to live their lives as Christian people. For us to be able to say that at a moment when so many other barriers toward full equality and full inclusion for gay and lesbian people are falling, I think it is an important symbolic moment.”
T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…