The Supreme Court Ruling on June 26, 2015


The decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges marks a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. The United States, over the last 240 years, has sought to become a haven of liberty, justice, and a home for those seeking to exercise the rights bestowed on them by our Creator.

I applaud the decision. It stands alongside previous courageous decisions the Court has made, such as Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia. The LGBT community has patiently awaited full inclusion in society and recognition of human rights granted to all people through our Constitution. This is certainly something they should celebrate. It is also something that we should all celebrate because, as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “No man is free until we are all free.” There is now a recognized layer of freedom for all that did not exist before this ruling.

I understand, though, that there are some who do not celebrate this decision. They may see this as a threat to much-beloved institutions of our society. Those fears are to be acknowledged. We need to walk with those who dissent from this opinion as they face these fears. Many people of good conscience disagree, and we must keep the doors of our churches and institutions open to them. They, too, are our brothers and sisters.

The court’s ruling raises questions as to the meaning of potential actions by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention being held in Salt Lake City. I would offer a way of viewing those considerations.

First, there are issues of justice, which the Supreme Court has addressed quite fully in its decision. These are issues of equality under the laws of the United States. The Church has already taken significant steps to address issues of justice and we may speak even more clearly in the days ahead.

There are also theological and sacramental issues, which the Court could not address. The Church is the appropriate province for those discussions. We may be asked to state – in our canons or our constitution – whether there are adequate theological foundations for the church to create and offer a sacramental liturgy of Holy Matrimony for those persons in same-sex relationships. These are not simple, one-dimensional discussions. Support of equality under the law does not preclude appropriate discussions from the viewpoint of sacramental theology. The mind of the Church, gathered in General Convention, may make that decision.

These are times which are both exciting and challenging. I hope that all people of faith will hold God’s reconciling mission in their prayers in the weeks ahead.

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