The Episcopal Church has lifted restrictions on same-sex marriages, allowing couples to marry in any church even if individual dioceses object.
The denomination had made its full marriage rite available to same-sex couples since 2015, but eight of its 101 dioceses in the U.S. chose not to allow same-sex marriages. But at the Episcopal General Convention in Austin last week, delegates approved a resolution that will let all couples marry in their home church, United Press International reports.
"For 40 years our LGBT brothers and sisters have been at the back of the bus and, every so often, they are invited to move forward one row at a time," the Rev. Scot McComas told fellow delegates, according to UPI. No one spoke against the resolution, which was adopted Friday, the last day of the meeting, the news service reports.
The dioceses that did not allow same-sex weddings were those in Dallas; North Dakota; Tennessee; Albany, N.Y.; Springfield, Ill.; the Virgin Islands; and two in Florida. Clergy members can still decline to perform the marriages, but if a diocese’s bishop objects, another bishop will provide support to the couple if desired.
LGBT Episcopalians and their allies praised the decision. "I am thrilled," Connally Davies Penley, a member of the pro-equality group All Sacraments for All People, told Nashville newspaper The Tennessean.
Tennessee resident Indie Pereira, who married Pari Bhatt in a civil ceremony because they were denied a church wedding, told the paper they hope to proceed with a religious ceremony now. "We're definitely pleased that [the resolution] passed," she said.
They expect no problems even though Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt had been one of those opposing same-sex ceremonies. "I feel like we can do that and we can stick together," Pereira said. "I feel like we can get through this."