Bishop Marc Andrus authorizes clergy to officiate at same-sex weddings

June 29 — Pursuant to the Ninth Circuit’s dissolution of its stay on Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 and the authorization of the State of California to solemnize same-sex marriages immediately, the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California, has authorized all clergy in the Diocese of California to immediately begin officiating at same-sex marriages.

Andrus said, “The 2009 and 2012 General Conventions of The Episcopal Church encouraged bishops in areas with civil same-sex marriage to use a ‘generous pastoral response,’ which has widely been interpreted as authorizing clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages. The Episcopal Diocese of California has a decades-long history of blessing same-sex couples, and I believe it only right that our sisters and brothers who show us God’s love in their partnerships have the full recognition of both the church and the state in one place, just as their heterosexual counterparts do.”

As a matter of civil law all clergy are automatically authorized to solemnize same-sex marriages, and couples need not get legally married before a church solemnizes their union with a blessing. In this authorization of clergy to preside at same-sex weddings, clergy are still required to follow all canonical preparation requirements for couples before officiating at their marriages. Additionally under canon, all clergy continue to have the option to decline to officiate at all marriages, same- or opposite-sex.

Bishop Andrus also said, “I celebrate with LGBT sisters and brothers this Pride weekend as their personhood has been more fully recognized by the state, and I give thanks to God for the ways that they not only bless and are blessings to one another, but how they bless the full life of the Church.”

In 2012 the General Convention of The Episcopal Church approved the rite “I will bless you and you will be a blessing,” which is the normative rite for blessing same-sex couples in the Diocese of California. Rites previously used and developed by the Diocese of California are not to be used at this time. The authorized rite is available here.

The Episcopal Diocese of California serves a diverse community of faith encompassing the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Approximately 27,000 people form 80 congregations in seven counties.