Bishop Marc Andrus: why we signed the dump DOMA briefs

In an essay for the On Faith section of The Washington Post’s website, Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California explains why he and more than 25 other Episcopal bishops signed friend-of-the-court briefs to the U. S. Supreme Court urging it to overturn Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. He writes:

On marriage equality, our church has traveled on pilgrimage with our culture. Sometimes we have led in advocacy for marriage equality, and sometimes we have learned from the culture and from leaders outside the church. We have developed rites for blessing and marriage for all, and we have extended the support of the church to LGBT people in the form of premarital counseling and the integration of same-sex couples into loving communities of faith. The historic social prominence of The Episcopal Church lays some extra responsibility on us to use our influence for good. Thus we have advocated with courts and lawmakers at every level of government to promote marriage equality.

What about the charge that we have thrown away tradition? Over and over I’ve heard people jokingly (mostly) call our church, “Catholic light,” and claim (this, almost always derogatorily) that The Episcopal Church has no clear moral standards. It is easy for such a church, the argument goes, to irresponsibly accept culturally-led innovations like marriage equality.

The second thing about Episcopalians and marriage equality, then, that is important to say at this moment is that we are a church that believes Christ continues to be with the world, moving with us, helping us find meaning in moments of joy and also loss and pain. The Christ whom we recognize is the one who speaks in John’s Gospel, saying, “There are many things I would teach you but you cannot bear them now … the Sprit will lead you into all truth.” For Episcopalians, tradition is a moving force that is not only dynamic but that changes quality over time, and we might liken the change to be one of more light being cast into the world.

It is our provisional understanding that only bishops in jurisdictions in which same-sex marriage either is or was legal were asked to sign on to the DOMA brief, and that bishops in every eligible diocese except for Albany did so. Every bishop in California signed the brief against Proposition 8.

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