End ‘Sacramental Apartheid’

A second night of hearings on a proposal to redefine marriage in church canons brought a few more opponents into the limelight Thursday, although they were solidly outnumbered again.

The Special Legislative Committee on Marriage moved from the Salt Palace Convention Center to a Radisson Hotel, where the spacious Wasatch Room provided extra seating to accommodate more than 100 observers.

In a new turn from Wednesday night, panel members heard a brief reminder of the passionate debates that used to mark sexuality conversations in the Episcopal Church before hundreds of theologically conservative parishes cut ties.

“It breaks my heart to see it, this wonderful Episcopal Church that I love,” said the Rev. Robert Haskell, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Albany. He said efforts to redefine marriage would amount to having the Episcopal Church turn its back on 2,000 years in a departure from Christian tradition.

The Very Rev. David Collum, dean of All Saints Cathedral in Albany, also opposed the redefinition, warning that it would alienate dioceses like his. The Diocese of Albany does not use the provisional blessing rite for same-sex couples that General Convention approved in 2012, he said.

“Think about the unity of the church,” Collum said.

The majority of speakers, however, echoed prevailing sentiments from Wednesday night before. Language of civil rights reverberated often Thursday as speaker after speaker denounced the concept of separate but equal.

“It is time to let our yes be yes, and end what is nothing less than de facto sacramental apartheid,” said the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Church, Pasadena, a member of the marriage task force.

Image: The Rev. Susan Russell addressing the Committee on Marriage on Wednesday night. • Matthew Townsend photo

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