Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on today’s United States Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8.
The Episcopal Church is presently engaged in a period of study and dialogue about the nature of Christian marriage. This work is moving forward, with faithful people of many different perspectives seeking together to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit. However, our Church has taken the position that neither federal nor state governments should create constitutional prohibitions that deny full civil rights and protections to gay and lesbian persons, including those available to different-sex couples through the civic institution of marriage.
Accordingly, I welcome today’s decision of the United States Supreme Court that strikes down the 17-year-old law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex civil marriages granted by the states. The unmistakable movement toward civil marriage equality in the states over the past decade reflects the will of the people in those states to grant equal rights and dignity under the law to all married couples and families, and today’s decision will appropriately allow those families to be recognized under federal law as well. At the same time, the Court’s withholding of judgment on the ultimate constitutional question of whether a state may ban same-sex marriage reflects the fact that this conversation will continue to evolve in coming years. I trust that Episcopalians will contribute actively and faithfully to this conversation, particularly as our nation begins to discern the many practical implications of today’s decisions for areas of our shared life, ranging from immigration law to family rights.
I am deeply aware that faithful Americans find themselves on all sides of these issues, including those who have not yet clearly discerned an effective or appropriate response. It is possible to disagree and work together for the good of the larger community. That is the bedrock of our democratic political system. It is also the foundation of life in the Body of Christ. Together we can help to build up the whole community, particularly if we have the courage to listen deeply to those who hold a different view. The Episcopal Church has an ancient tradition of attempting to hold divergent views together for the sake of deeper truth. All are beloved of God, and the flourishing of each is what we believe God intended from the beginning of creation. May we help to build a beloved community in which each and every person is treated with dignity, knowing that each and every one reflects the image of God.