Monday, November 30, 2009

Massachusetts Episcopal bishop allows priests to officiate same-sex weddings

More than five years after gays and lesbians began to legally marry in the Bay State, the bishop who oversees Episcopalian priests in Eastern Massachusetts officially granted them permission to officiate nuptials for same-sex couples.

Bishop M. Thomas Shaw III's decision comes a month after local clergy and parishioners endorsed a resolution that expressed hope he would allow priests within the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts to officiate these weddings. He further discussed his decision in an interview with the Boston Globe.

"The time has come," Shaw said. "It’s time for us to offer to gay and lesbian people the same sacrament of fidelity that we offer to the heterosexual world."

Shaw's decision comes more than six years after New Hampshire Episcopalians consecrated openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson. And it is sure to further stoke the internal debate within both the American Episcopal Church and the broader Anglican Communion over the role gays and lesbians will continue to play and whether priests should allow same-sex couples to marry.

The Rev. Anne C. Fowler of Jamaica Plain was among those who applauded Shaw's decision to the Globe.

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