(L.A. Times) Sixteen years after allowing gays and lesbians to become priests, the Episcopal Church appears poised to introduce a rite that would specifically bless the unions of same-sex couples.
If the liturgy is approved, which is expected, Episcopalians will become the first major denomination to endorse such a ritual for homosexual couples.
On its face, the blessing seems similar to that of a marriage rite -- including “I do,” “we have gathered together today” and an exchange of rings. Notably absent are the words “husband,” “wife” and “marriage.”
Supporters of the liturgy emphasize that the rite would acknowledge and bless same-sex unions, but would not sanctify them as marriage in most states. Churches in states where gay marriage is legal -- six, as well as Washington, D.C. -- have had the option of blessing gay marriage, but do not currently use a formal liturgy.
“While the liturgy we have developed is not called ‘marriage,’ we recognize significant parallels,” the committee wrote in its handbook on blessing same-sex marriages, called "I Bless You, And You Will Be a Blessing." “Two people publicly make a lifelong, monogamous commitment to one another with the exchange of solemn vows in a ritual that pronounces God’s blessing on their life together...”