Episcopal Church Approves New Rites for Same-Sex Unions, Passes Transgender Inclusive Policies in Ordination and Church Life, and Supports Equal Immigration Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, applauds the Episcopal Church for approving a new liturgy for blessing same-sex unions, two proposals adding gender identity and expression to the Church’s nondiscrimination canons for ordained ministry and in the “life, worship, and governance of the Church,” and a resolution supporting legislation for equal immigration rights for same-sex couples. The votes took place at the denomination’s General Convention in Indianapolis. While the passage signifies a step in the right direction, the Canons of the Church still use the definition of “marriage” as between a man and a woman.

“This is a great day for the Episcopal Church and people of faith everywhere. The Church reaffirmed to LGBT Episcopalians they are also God’s children and they deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.” — Rev. MacArthur Flournoy, deputy director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program

These votes were a long time in the making. Since the 1960s, many clergy have provided private blessings to gay and lesbian couples, but the Church had no official practice. Following the 2009 General Convention, the Church said bishops may provide “generous pastoral response” to gay couples, especially in states that allow civil unions or gay marriages. The Church has been relatively silent on issues related to transgender clergy until this weekend.

“The Episcopal Church one of a growing number of denominations to see a new day in the intersection of faith and sexual orientation and gender identity. This is not only good for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people but it is good for the soul of the church,” added Rev. Flournoy.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Rhode Island Governor Takes Action to Recognize Out of State Same-Sex Marriages

Washington – The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization – is today praising Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee for taking action to assure state agencies recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples performed out of state.

HRC President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement in response to Governor Chafee’s action:

“Governor Chafee is a long-time advocate for marriage equality in the Ocean State, and we applaud his continue leadership on this issue. President Obama delivered a powerful message last week that all couples are entitled to dignity, respect, and protection – both in the eyes of society and under the law. This is a historic step forward for LGBT families in Rhode Island, who will now have access to a range of benefits and protections that they have previously been denied. Governor Chafee is taking definitive action to strengthen Rhode Island families, and we encourage state leaders across the country to follow his lead.”

The Rhode Island Attorney General issued an advisory opinion in 2007 declaring that the state can recognize out-of-jurisdiction marriages. However, the Rhode Island Supreme Court later refused to grant a divorce to a same-sex couple legally married in Massachusetts. This led to confusion over how the state treats same-sex couples legally married out of jurisdiction.

Governor Chafee’s action today clears up that confusion and provides a clear directive to the state’s agencies. Under his order, same-sex couples married out of state but residing in Rhode Island will receive the same rights, benefits, and obligations of opposite-sex couples who are married.

Learn more about relationship recognition in states across the country.

 

The Human Rights Campaign is the author of this press release and is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Kristen Bell For Marriage Equality

Kristen Bell has recently recorded her support for marriage equality via HRC’s Marriage Equality campaign. What’s not to love?


Says Bell:

“When my fiancee and I decided to get married it was because we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. And it breaks my heart to know that millions of gay Americans still can’t marry the one they love. And I can. That makes no sense.”

More Momentum in Maryland: Senate Passes Civil Marriage Equality Bill

But marriage not yet a reality; voter referendum expected

Washington, D.C. – On the heels of the historic House of Delegates vote last week, the Maryland Senate today approved marriage equality legislation introduced by Governor Martin O’Malley (D) that would allow committed gay and lesbian couples to marry. With the bill successfully passing through the state legislature, Governor O’Malley is expected to sign it.

“We could not be more grateful to the senators who today voted to make all Maryland families stronger,” said Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “Today, we took another giant step toward marriage equality becoming law – and we are in this position due to the unwavering leadership and resolve of Governor O’Malley and our legislative allies, particularly Sens. Rich Madaleno, Jamie Raskin, Rob Garagiola, and Brian Frosh.”

The Civil Marriage Protection Act allows committed gay and lesbian couples to obtain a marriage license while providing religious exemptions for churches and other religious institutions. Clergy, for example, do not have to perform any marriage they do not agree with.

Virtually any piece of legislation, according to Maryland law, can be subject to a referendum where voters cast a ballot supporting or opposing the legislation. Opponents of marriage equality are expected to begin obtaining the requisite signatures necessary to refer the Civil Marriage Protection Act to the general election ballot. Says Solmonese:

“There remains a lot of work to do between now and November to make marriage equality a reality in Maryland. Along with coalition partners, we look forward to educating and engaging voters about what this bill does: It strengthens all Maryland families and protects religious liberty.”

A January poll by the Washington Post indicated a majority of Marylanders support marriage equality.

The Human Rights Campaign committed extensive resources to the legislative effort in the Free State, including helping to create Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the broad-based coalition made up of labor, faith, civil liberties, and LGBT organizations. HRC provided the campaign’s senior staff and spearheaded the field, communications, and faith components of the coalition effort. Learn more about HRC’s engagement.

Today’s legislative win for marriage equality comes at a historic moment: in the past three weeks, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled California’s discriminatory Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional; Governor Christine Gregoire signed marriage equality into law in Washington State; and a marriage bill passed the New Jersey legislature this month. Six states and the District of Columbia recognize marriage equality, with Washington State’s law set to go into effect in three months.

The Human Rights Campaign is the author of this press release and is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.