The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Bishop Provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, released the following statement on Judge John E. Jones III’s ruling that Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional:
Today is a joyful day for Pennsylvanians who believe as I do that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in our state. These couples work hard, raise children, volunteer for good causes and pay taxes. Pennsylvania would be poorer without them, and I am pleased that Judge John E. Jones III has moved them one significant step closer to equality under the law.
The Episcopal Church has struggled faithfully with the issue of same-sex relationships for more than three decades, and in that struggle most of us have come to understand that same-sex couples and their families are blessings to their communities and to their neighbors and friends. Like opposite-sex couples, their love draws them more clearly into fidelity to one another and service to the world. Like opposite sex couples, they are signs and sacraments allowing us to see the boundless love of God more clearly.
I am aware that faithful Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Bethlehem and Northwestern Pennsylvania disagree with me on this issue. I want to assure them that our dioceses will remain places where people of good conscience can differ charitably and remain united in the hope and healing of Jesus Christ.
After reflection and consultation, I will write to both dioceses with guidance for clergy who want to officiate at same-sex marriages. For today, I am grateful to live in a state that has taken a step toward justice.