Religious Support for Marriage Equality Marches Forward
BY Trudy Ring
September 04 2014 5:00 AM ET
Above: Mary Glasspool
The Episcopal Church, which has about 2 million members, has ordained many openly gay and lesbian clergy members, and some of them have risen to prominent positions. Gene Robinson became the church’s first openly gay bishop in 2004, when he assumed that post for the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. He retired in 2013, but there are still several high-ranking LGBT clergy members in the church, such as Mary Glasspool, the first out lesbian Episcopal bishop; she is bishop suffragan, meaning an assistant bishop, in the Diocese of Los Angeles. The church has an official “rite of blessing” for same-sex unions, but it doesn’t refer to them as marriages. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, but not all churches within the global body have a similarly welcoming stance. The Church of England, for instance, will not bless same-sex unions, and it will ordain openly gay clergy but expects them to remain celibate. After Robinson became a bishop, some Episcopal congregations left the denomination and affiliated with more conservative Anglican bodies overseas.