Anticipating a possible statement from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston writes to the people of his diocese:
I support our clergy who want to bear witness to their sense of justice and equality in marrying gay persons when and if that becomes legally possible in Virginia. But I also would note that, as is the case with heterosexual marriage, clergy who might officiate at same-gender marriages outside the pastoral relationships of our communities of faith do so as agents of the commonwealth, and not in the context of the liturgical life and witness of our Church.
Meanwhile, as the debate over same-sex marriage (distinct from the blessing of unions) continues in the councils of our Church, I emphasize that, as is again the case with heterosexual marriage, no priest of this Diocese will be required to officiate at marriage rites that their conscience cannot allow. Clergy who hold such restrictions of conscience also have my support in their convictions.
… Note: Should the current ban on same-sex marriage in Virginia be lifted tomorrow, the Bishop’s Guidelines for Clergy and Congregations Regarding Marriage of Same-Sex Couples in the Diocese of Virginia will be posted on the diocesan website.
TLC revised its post August 21 to refer to the correct court.