Episcopal Church named in top 5 religious advances

GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has named the Episcopal Church in its top 5 religious advances of 2012:

There was a time, not so long ago, when religion was a unified front against LGBT equality. However, over the years, we have seen that paradigm change. 2012 witnessed religious people and organizations at the forefront of LGBT advancement. This past spring, GLAAD released “Missing Voices” which noted that pro-LGBT religious voices were largely missing in the media, despite significantly increased LGBT inclusion in religious communities. We publically challenged the media to include more pro-LGBT voices of faith. By the end of the year, we saw several religious leaders stepping out and speaking up. The support came from some pretty surprising places. Take a look.

The Episcopal Church has been on a decade-long trajectory of LGBT inclusion, since electing its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson. Bishop Robinson had a very active year, which is more fully documented in our top pro-LGBT faith voices post. The Episcopal Church went even further this year. The conventional wisdom is that advocacy groups can’t advocate for more than one LGBT issue at a time. The Episcopal Church broke that wisdom, successfully passing four resolutions addressing LGBT equality in church and society. They quickly showed support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and anti-bullying initiatives. The church got the most attention for passing a rite of blessing for same-gender couples. However, the most significant advancement that The Episcopal Church accomplished was a non-discrimination policy for transgender people. This policy ensures the inclusion of transgender people in their membership in the church, as well as their leadership, including ordained ministry. The Episcopal Church is the largest denomination to have a specific protection for transgender people, making it easier for other similar denominations to follow suit. Episcopal support for LGBT people has caused some ecumenical friction, as when Bishop Marc Andrus was snubbed at the installation of San Francisco Roman Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for his outspoken support of LGBT people.

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