Episcopal Church Moves Toward Greater LGBT Inclusion

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson

The Episcopal Church, which is already well-known as one of the most LGBT-inclusive denominations — the church confirmed its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003 and has supported same-sex marriage since 2005 — is taking steps to codify LGBT equality into its liturgy at its General Convention this week.

The Episcopal Church’s triennial convention is meeting this week to discuss several resolutions to improve Episcopal doctrine and policy toward the LGBT community. Yesterday, both bodies of the church leadership overwhelmingly passed a resolution to add gender identity and expression to the church’s nondiscrimination clause. Additionally, a resolution to add same-sex marriage rites to the Episcopal liturgy passed the church’s Chamber of Bishops — the church’s more conservative body of leadership — and is expected to pass the House of Deputies later this week for final approval.

Episcopal clergy-member Susan Russell, a longtime advocate for LGBT equality, calls the resolution advancing same-sex rites a “profoundly important step” and explains that the implications of the nondiscrimination resolution are far-reaching:

Today the Episcopal Church “put the T in equality” by explicitly including transgender people in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church and as candidates to the ordained ministry…And it is not just a good day for transgender Episcopalians and their friends, families and allies. It is a good day for all of us who are part of a church willing to the risk to continue to draw the circle wider as we work to live out our call to make God’s inclusive love known to the whole human family.

As public support for marriage equality continues to increase, support for the LGBT community within religious bodies is also on the rise. In addition to Episcopalians, other Christian denominations that have embraced same-sex couples include Evangelical Lutherans, Presbyterians (U.S.A), members of the United Church of Christ, and Unitarian Universalists.