The Episcopal Church took a giant step forward Wednesday by removing barriers for same-sex couples desiring to be married in the church. Meeting in Salt Lake City, the General Convention an overwhelming majority of the House of Deputies concurred with the actions of the House of Bishops earlier this week, adopting two resolutions: A054 (authorizing new marriage liturgies for trial use) and A036 (removing references to marriage as being between a man and a woman in the church's canons.)
Taken together, these actions make marriage -- which the Supreme Court ruled last week is a "fundamental right" for all Americans -- equally available for all Episcopalians. Carefully and prayerfully crafted, they provide as wide a tent as possible for the historic diversity that characterizes the Episcopal Church -- guaranteeing access to marriage liturgies to all couples while protecting the conscience of clergy and bishops who dissent theologically.
The genius of today's action is that the conscience of a dissenting bishop is protected but not at the price of denying same-sex couples access to the sacramental rite of marriage. It will be a "bridge too far" for some and not far enough for others. But it is an exemplary illustration of the hard, faithful work of a church refusing to let the perfect be the enemy of the good as it strives to become a more expansive and inclusive church.
The journey to this day has been long and the challenges have been great. We have worked, prayed, argued, debated and compromised to this moment. We have been on a 40-year journey in the Episcopal Church working to turn the 'full and equal claim' promised to LGBT Episcopalians in 1976 from a resolution to a reality.
There is still work to do to reach the audacious goal of a church where there are no barriers to full inclusion for any member of the Church but today we celebrate an important and incremental victory toward that goal. It is a proud day to be an Episcopalian as we journey together into God's future -- a diverse people united in our commitment to the Jesus Movement our Presiding Bishop-elect has called us to claim and to proclaim to a world hungry for love, justice and compassion.