Thinking Anglicans

American church responses to Supreme Court decisions

Updated

The Supreme Court of the United States today issued two decisions relating to the marriage of same sex couples. The Guardian summarised it this way:

A landmark supreme court ruling struck down a controversial federal law that discriminated against gay couples in the US, delivering a stunning victory on Wednesday to campaigners who fought for years to overturn it.

The court also dismissed a separate appeal against same-sex marriage laws in California, restoring the right to gay marriage in the largest US state and nearly doubling the number of Americans living in states where gay marriage would be legal.

Together, the two rulings mark the biggest advance in civil liberties for gay people in a generation, and come amid growing political and international recognition that same-sex couples deserve equal legal treatment…

The Federal DOMA opinion is here. The California Proposition 8 opinion is here.

Numerous statements in response were made by bishops of The Episcopal Church and other senior church officials. Here are some links:

Update

Church leaders outside The Episcopal Church expressed contrary views:

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dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

The statement issued by the Bishop of Los Angeles can be found here – http://episcopalnews.ladiocese.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3160285

Cynthia
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Cynthia

What a joyful day!!! I personally rang the bells at our parish in Denver. I couldn’t think of a good number, 17 since DOMA was passed? 44 since the Stonewall Riots? I settled on 22, the number of years I’ve been with my partner. Note, we still need to go out-of-state to one of the ones that does marriage. It will be a couple more years before we get it here, we just got Civil Unions. So we have to travel to get our Rights. I loved reading all the comments. Would have liked more joy from KJS, but the… Read more »

Laurence
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Laurence

Wonderful news from America !

Wonderful response from the Presiding Bishop !

TEC truly leads the Anglican Communion in human rights, ethics and godliness.

How thankful we.

Scotish equal marriage bill being published 8 a.m. today I understand !

‘all things are returning to perfection’
(I know, i know 🙂 )

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

Yes TEC truly leads. The CofE can only look back on a solid record of discrimination and can only therefore issue weak apologies. TEC however did the right thing 1st time around (ok, 2nd or 3rd but they got there) and paid a heavy price at the hands of the CofE and the “Communion”. Utterly glorious to watch YouTube video Episcopal bells being ring in celebration. What a wonderful witness.

Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

I know that recently on this blog Judith Maltby reminded those of us who are priests in the C-of-E but were raised in TEC (she’s one too)that we shouldn’t be uppity, that every part of the Anglican Communion has its own strengths and weaknesses and of course she was right, but just to say that today feels like a pretty good day.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

It you want to see what decent American Christians are up against, read the article (and, worse, the comments) at http://www.redstate.com/2013/06/27/yes-you-will-be-made-to-care/ Unfortunately, noisy fanatics like the one quoted below are increasingly what non-Christians think they hear when the Church of England speaks. They are wrong, as the CofE is not that hateful. But it is what they think they are hearing. That is a tragedy for everyone. “Fortunately, I would predict that you will be homeschooling your kids (or putting them in private school) within a year or two. Not only could your kids have a homosexual as a teacher,… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Didn’t the RC bishops in the USA call for a National Day of Prayer for the ‘right’ decision from the Sepreme Court?

Didn’t work, did it? Perhaps God doesn’t agree with them?

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Interesting range of pro and con reactions, but any any reaction on the ruling by the U.s. Supreme Court on civil rights and voting laws?
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/25/us-usa-court-voting-idUSBRE95O0TU20130625

Also, what are the churches saying about the death penalty issue in the U.S., now that Texas has carried out its 500th state killing?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-27/texas-executes-500th-inmate-since-death-penalty-reinstated/4784884

Might eb an idea to look at the complete picture with reard to civil/human rights issues and the range of opinion by various denominations. I think, for example, the American r.C. Bishops are on record as being opposed to capital punishment.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Interested Observer wrote “Unfortunately, noisy fanatics like the one quoted below are increasingly what non-Christians think they hear when the Church of England speaks. They are wrong, as the CofE is not that hateful. But it is what they think they are hearing.” Yes. That is exactly what we are hearing. Maybe our clergy and leadership types have a move nuanced view, but the rest of us view CoE through the filter of our culture. We have a whole, vociferous, “God Hates Fags” movement here. Some of them picket funerals, like the funeral of the young Matthew Shepherd, to make… Read more »

Concerned Anglican
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Concerned Anglican

It’s telling and in a way encouraging to see the continuing gulf between the schismatic conservative ACNA and CANA groupings vis a vis the Episcopal Church. Anglicanism is at a crossroads and slowly the whole denomination is moving towards what is actually its true ‘traditional’ position of openness, reason and compassion. It’ll take a time for the entire Communion to catch up, but it will. One can’t help thinking of the American Prohibition days in this context.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Rod, a number of clergy have remarked on the gutting of parts of the Voting Rights Act. Here’s a link to remarks from our President of the House of Deputies: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/notice/president-house-deputies-us-supreme-court-voting-rights-ruling

And a number are also on record as opposing Capital Punishment. Our official policy is against it. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2012/06/13/episcopal-leaders-push-to-abolish-death-penalty-across-the-country/

We’re hard pressed to work with a denomination, such as the RC’s, because the RC’s link state execution with abortion and thus what ought to be common ground is obliterated.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Cynthia, tks for the links, and with them a widening of the conversational context. I understand the divide with the R.C.’s. One laments the decline of the “Lund Principle” from the more ecumenical days gone by.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Cynthia, the problem is that the CofE has made an appalling strategic error. It comes from a naive attitude of thinking the best of people, no matter how difficult it is. That in isolation is a laudable way to behave. But as a basis for strategic planning, good intentions are not enough. The CofE thinks that you can negotiate with irreconcilables. They think that people who believe homosexuality is the worst sin, and people that think that women are incapable of headship, actually don’t believe either of those things and are just negotiating details. It’s the old joke about belief… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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As a New Zealand Anglican, I am proud of my Anglican Church’s association with TEC! I am also aware of TEC’s important initatives on issues of gender and sexuality -despite the all too often destructive comments from those former TEC people who have chosen to move out of their parent Church, in order to follow their own antedeluvian understanding of the human realities.

There can be little doubt that the enlightened stance of TEC has encouraged the US Government to bring justice to the LGBT community in North America. Deo gratias!

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Thank you, Interested Observer. That is an interesting viewpoint and it is kinder to think of CoE through the lens of naiveté. However, you are spot on about apartheid. And in the US MLK said that you can’t legislate a man to love me, but you can legislate to get him to stop killing me. Something like that. And that is what happened. And we were left with a minority that would like to kill, but it’s not as acceptable as the days of lynch mobs. The hate is that intense, that real, and that intractable. -phobias, are irrational, whether… Read more »

John
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John

‘The same goes, mutatis mutandis, for the ordination of women. Their issue isn’t with oversight and resolution A versus B, their issue is with the ordination of women. There is no negotiation that will make things better. No concession will be enough, other than an agreement to not ordain women.’ I think you’re wrong, Interested Observer. Of course they think the ordination of women is wrong but they accept that it has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen. They also accept – most of them – that women bishops will happen. They seek ‘protection’ for their position. I… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“They seek ‘protection’ for their position.”

Is that the “position” of a PERSON? Because that, I believe, is doable: just put a time limit on, and “the way of all flesh” will take its course!

But is that a “position”, as in an army, dug in? The position of a parish, a diocese—multiple dioceses? Or a seminary? No. No bishop-who-is-female-excluded “positions” in perpetuity. That’s a non-starter.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

John, they were given what they said they wanted at the last synod. It was voted down, by the laity. It’s an open question as to whether that was people who thought the protections insufficient or the protections excessive, but my money’s on insufficient: the house of laity was probably more opposed to women bishops than the church at large, and the suggestion that people in favour should vote no because the protections were too extensive didn’t seem to get far. Given the measure containing the protections was voted down, what would you suggest next if the intent is to… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

John, do you have a proposal that isn’t hurtful to girls and women? Or in your view, girls and women are just supposed to suck it up and accept the inferiority message?

I have compassion for the brokenness of not being able to accept others. I don’t have sympathy for the idea that this brokenness should drive the polity.

I can’t find reconciliation at the polity level, only the parish pastoral level. That would mean they would have male clergy, but they don’t get to disrespect women bishops.

Helen
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Helen

I’m afraid I feel a distinct lack of empathy/sympathy/compassion when I read the Forward in Faith website.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“I’m afraid I feel a distinct lack of empathy/sympathy/compassion when I read the Forward in Faith website.” Exactly, that website, and their articles all scream “we’re entitled to keep our bigotries!!!! We’re absolutely entitled to not be questioned or challenged.” The traditionalists deny that their position creates enormous harm. Women leaders in Africa absolutely state that religion is part of the problem that subjugates women, leaving them vulnerable to deprivation and violence, such as rape. In the first world, we also have domestic violence, rape, and economic hardship that is solidly based on the unequal position of women. We have… Read more »

John
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John

Helen, I agree the FiF website is pretty terrible. I think that like many websites it isn’t properly updated. All: I was making a narrow point here – not arguing the whole caboodle. Cynthia, The way you express yourself is very tendentious: it seems you think that opposition to WO is immediately and per se ‘hurtful’, ‘keeping women inferior’, ‘disrespect’: it isn’t; there are category confusions here. (I don’t deny it often is the things you say, but we’re talking logic here.) Of course, I get bored arguing the way I do, because personally I am 100% in favour of… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

Point of privilege for my, um, “position”: I’m in California, and the SHEER JOY that erupted yesterday, when marriages of same-sex couples resumed, is GLORIOUS!!! [These were courthouse marriages, but I expect marriages in TEC parishes to soon occur—decently and in good order, of course. Not to mention fabulous! ;-)]

Cynthia
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Cynthia

I really appreciate what you are saying, John, I really do. And I know that my writing is passionate, to say the least. I’m in TEC and we’ve had WO and WB my entire adult lifetime, so I find these arguments against women absolutely off the wall irrational. It just seems to me that what you are advocating for is for women and girls to accept the inferiority/unequal position for the sake of peace in the family. That is an enormous burden to put on girls and women. Enormous. It is terribly unhealthy. We Americans do tend to filter these… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

John and Cynthia
I think this discussion has more than run its course, and we should move on to other topics now. Thank you.

MarkBrunson
Guest

One of the most tiring points, John, is your double-standard of allowing all the “tendentious” speech and attitudes the con-evos want and then engage is sanctimonious censure with those you *purport* to side with. I find *that* deeply wrong.

I mean, seriously – Cynthia is a woman, and you sit there preaching to her about self-control and “gracious allowance.” Apparently your graciousness and compassion run in only one direction.

With friends like these . . .

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Thanks Mark, that is exactly the point. I’m sick of the inferiority message, and I’m sick of the damage it causes in our respective cultures, and certainly more broadly.