Clergy in same sex relationships required to marry?

Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service, rounds up the news on the changes to the Church Pension Group benefit plans for married same sex couples as well as bishops’ reactions to changes in marriage equality laws:

When the state of New York allows same-gender couples to marry beginning July 24, some of the state’s Episcopal Church bishops are requiring their partnered clergy to avail themselves of the law.

And, the Church Pension Group said July 11 that it decided nearly a month ago to follow the requirements of the New York law and provide “parity of benefits for legally-married same-gender spouses.” A letter explaining the change was recently sent to all participants.

Clergy living in same-gender relationships in the Diocese of Long Island have nine months from July 24 to have their relationships “be regularized either by the exchange of vows in marriage” or live apart, Bishop Lawrence Provenzano announced in a July 8 pastoral letter setting out guidelines for implementing the new law.

Meanwhile, Manhattan-based Diocese of New York, Bishop Mark Sisk said in a letter to clergy about their options for marrying same-gender couples under the law that “in the spirit of the opportunity provided by this new law, it is my expectation that all those who are currently living in committed relationships, will, in due course, have those relationships formalized by the state of New York.”


Diocese of Rochester Bishop Prince Singh, a strong supporter of the law, told ENS via e-mail that he has commissioned a “Marriage Equality Task Force made up of thoughtful leaders to study, distill and provide me with options and guidelines to help us move forward with dignity and integrity.” Singh asked the group to provide their recommendations within the next four weeks.

[Bishop John] Chane [Diocese of Washington] told ENS in a telephone interview July 11 that he would “never, ever” require priests in his diocese who live in same-gender relationships to marry unless they wanted to.

To do so, he said, misses the fact that civil authorities have denied “basic human rights and privileges” to same-gender couples for years and now “it’s almost as if the straight community is once again telling gay people what they ought to do and I find that really somewhat troublesome.”

The Rev. Canon Mally Lloyd, Diocese of Massachusetts canon to the ordinary, said in a comment e-mailed to ENS July 11 that “in general the bishops’ practice during this time of transition and change has been to treat situations with pastoral care whenever possible because the fact that marriage is now legal for gay and lesbian people is a quantum shift in identity and possibility for many of them, and to put a timeline on a couple’s readiness for the sacramental rite of marriage when that has never been available to them before seems arbitrary and unpastoral.”

Read more here

The Lead’s previous story on the CPG decision is here.

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