Updated Thursday morning
An earlier article deals with the proposed changes to canon law. The changes described here, together with those mentioned in the earlier article will be considered by the House of Deputies of General Convention later today.
As ENS explains in Marriage-equality resolutions advance to House of Deputies,
…If the House of Deputies concurs with the House of Bishops-amended Resolution A054, the liturgies “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” and “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” from “Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015” from the supplemental Blue Book materials of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will be available for trial use beginning this Advent. Those rites offer the option of using “wife,” “husband,” “person” or “spouse,” thus making them applicable for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
The bishops eliminated a third proposed liturgy from the resolution, “The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony.”
All three liturgies can be found on pages 2-151 here from the materials provided to convention by the standing commission.
The amended resolution stipulates: “Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies. Trial use is only to be available under the discretion and with the permission of the diocesan bishop.”
The resolution also says “That bishops may continue to provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.” During discussion, bishops said this was intended to address bishops’ situations in jurisdictions outside the United States, such as Italy and countries in Province IX, where same-sex marriages remain illegal.
The resolution extends the canonical provision to these resources that, “‘It shall be within the discretion of any member of the clergy of this church to decline to preside at any rite contained herein” and that “this convention honor the theological diversity of this church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and that no bishop, priest, deacon or lay person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities, as a result of his or her theological objection to or support for the 78th General Convention’s action contained in this resolution.”
Some bishops questioned whether this meant a priest could officiate at a same-sex marriage ceremony without consequence even if his or her bishop didn’t approve of use of the trial liturgies.
The provision is intended to protect clergy in a diocese where the bishop advocates for the use of the liturgies, replied retired Virginia Bishop Peter Lee. Clergy are protected if they disagree with their bishop, but not if they disobey them, he said…
See also the detailed explanation by Jordan Hylden of the process by which these new texts can be incorporated in the American Book of Common Prayer:
…The church’s specially appointed Task Force on the Study of Marriage had originally proposed canonical changes that would have redefined marriage as gender-neutral and authorized liturgies for use. But many voices on both right and left objected to this course, since it would have placed the church’s constitution and canon law at odds with one another. The church constitution requires that worship services in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) cannot be altered at one General Convention, nor can alternatives to them be authorized except for “trial use” (Article X). To change canon law by itself, therefore, was not sufficient to provide alternative services to BCP liturgies. Therefore “trial use” was the course taken by the bishops, some of whom (such as Bishop Shannon Johnston, of the influential Diocese of Virginia) argued that precisely because same-sex marriage is so important, it needs to be passed in a way that is constitutionally beyond question. Other bishops, such as Thomas Ely of Vermont, eventually came around to this view and a consensus was reached early on in committee…
…What will happen now? Significantly, the bishops authorized the trial-use marriage liturgies “at the direction and with the permission” of diocesan bishops. If this holds up in the House of Deputies (on the docket soon), it will then mean that for the next three years bishops like William Love of Albany will be able in church law to continue their current practice of forbidding same-sex marriages in their dioceses. After that, if the liturgies become part of the BCP, it is difficult to see how that will any longer be possible….
See also this commentary by Tobias Haller Comprehension not Compromise.
…Some have characterized these resolutions as compromises. I prefer to see them as comprehensive. The resolution on liturgies authorizes trial use as provided for in the Constitution, with the mandate that bishops will see to it that all couples have access to the liturgies, while at the same time affirming that the bishop is responsible for directing and permitting these liturgies. This may be too subtle for some, but I believe it will allow the minority of bishops who are personally opposed to marriage equality sufficient conscientious cover, while at the same time requiring them to find ways to provide for couples in their dioceses who wish to make use of the liturgies. This will be a time for creativity and generosity…
ENS reports General Convention approves marriage equality.
…The House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops’ approval the day before of a canonical change eliminating language defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorizing two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).
The resolutions marked the culmination of a conversation launched when the 1976 General Convention said that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the church,” said the Very Rev. Brian Baker, deputy chair of the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage. “That resolution began a 39-year conversation about what that full and equal claim would look like. The conversation has been difficult for many and painful for many.”
Resolutions A054 and A036 represented compromises reached after prayerful consideration and conversation within the legislative committee, and then the House of Bishops to make room for everyone, Baker said. “I know that most of you will find something … to dislike and to disagree with” in the resolutions, he said, asking deputies to “look through the lens of how this compromise makes room for other people.”
Deputies defeated an attempt to amend each of the resolutions. Following 20 minutes of debate per resolution, each resolution passed in a vote by orders. A054 passed by 94-12 with 2 divided deputations in the clerical order and 90-11-3 in the lay order. A036 passed 85-15-6 in the clerical order and 88-12-6 in the lay order.