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.

NBC/WSJ Poll Shows Majority of Americans Would Support Same-Sex Marriage

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A poll by NBC News/ Wall Street Journal today shows that 54 percent of Americans would support a law in their state making same-sex marriage legal, while 40% oppose it. The latest survey is in line with a raft of other national polls reflecting the fast growing momentum in support of marriage for committed gay and lesbian couples.

Poll result, courtesy of HRC

In Landmark Move, NAACP Board Endorses Marriage Equality

Flurry of Recent Developments Shatters Myth of African-American Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage

WASHINGTON – On the heels of President Obama’s historic support for marriage equality and subsequent polling on the issue among African-Americans, the NAACP Board of Directors endorsed marriage equality on May 19, 2012.

“We could not be more pleased with the NAACP’s history-making vote today – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “It’s time the shameful myth that the African-American community is somehow out of lockstep with the rest of the country on marriage equality is retired – once and for all. The facts and clear momentum toward marriage speak for themselves.”

Half of African-Americans, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted earlier this month, back marriage equality. The Journal reported, “Almost every demographic slice was more in favor of gay marriage than it had been in 2009.”

Following President Obama’s historic endorsement of the issue also this month, attitudes within the African-American community become even more positive. A Washington Post poll showed that 54 percent of African Americans backed the President’s statement. A Public Policy Poll also taken after the President’s announcement reflected an 11-point increase among African Americans in North Carolina who support either marriage or civil unions for committed gay and lesbian couples.

Months ago, HRC unearthed secret internal memos by the so-called National Organization for Marriage which admitted in stark terms its racial strategy. One memo to its Board of Directors stated NOM would drive a “wedge between gays and blacks.”

“NOM has pursued ugly racial politics seeking to divide people, but what is becoming crystal clear is that its strategy is not working,” said Solmonese. “Americans from all walks of life are uniting to support love, commitment, and stronger families.”

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.

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.