The Anglican Consultative Council, having met in Kingston, Jamaica, has finished its work. It passed various resolutions, but none of more interest to people in this neighborhood than Resolution ACC-14.
No surprises, really, especially parts c, d and e, to wit:
c. affirms the request of the Windsor Report (2004), adopted at the Primates’ Meetings (2005, 2007 and 2009), and supported at the Lambeth Conference (2008) for the implementation of the agreed moratoria on the Consecration of Bishops living in a same gender union, authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for Same Sex unions and continued interventions in other Provinces;
d. acknowledges the efforts that have been made to hold to the moratoria, gives thanks for the gracious restraint that has been observed in these areas and recognises the deep cost of such restraint;
e. asks that urgent conversations are facilitated with those Provinces where the application of the moratoria gives rise for concern;
A colleague of mine asked, "Okay, so the hill we have to climb in Anaheim just got piled higher. What are we to say to the 'movable middle' (whatever THAT is, anymore) or those bishops who have been drinking the Lambeth Kool-Aid who say 'but the Communion says . . .'?"
Here's my answer: DO THE MATH!
Gay Marriage is now legal in five states: Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa. Massachusetts. and Maine. It has passed the NH legislature and is expected to be signed into law by the Governor.
Gay Rights Activist are predicting a sweep of the North East (little RI) by 2012.
Last month, the D.C. Council overwhelmingly voted in favor of legislation recognizing same-sex marriages from other states as marriage in the District -- a move lauded by lawmakers as a step toward legalizing gay marriage in the city.
President Obama has pledged a full repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which currently guarantees that no state needs to treat a relationship between two people of the same sex as marriage, even if it is considered a marriage in another state, and further directs the Federal Government not to treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.
So, to recap: There are five states which allow gay marriage and nine others (California, New Jersey, New Hampshire (marriage pending), Oregon, District of Columbia, Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, and Colorado) have domestic partnerships or civil unions -- with one, New York, on the cusp of marriage equality (and California awaiting their Supreme Court decision on marriage).
If you've been keeping track, that's 15 (one immanently pending) jurisdictions in The United States with some form of marriage equality.
What does that mean for Episcopalians?
There are THIRTY dioceses of the Episcopal Church now have members within their jurisdiction calling on their church to provide pastoral care in the celebration and blessing of their unions.
Don't believe me? Here are the facts:
Jurisdictions with domestic partnership or civil unions
Dioceses: 6 - California, Northern California, El Camino Real, San Joaquin, Los Angeles, San Diego
State: New Jersey
Diocese: 2 - New Jersey, Newark
State: New Hampshire (marriage pending)
Diocese: 2 - Oregon, Eastern Oregon
State: Washington, DC
Diocese: 2 - Spokane, Olympia
Diocese: 2 - Maryland, Easton
Jurisdictions in the U.S. that offer marriage equality to same-sex couples:
Dioceses: 2 - Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts
Jurisdictions with pending marriage equality legislation:
State: New York
Dioceses: 6 - Albany, New York, Central New York, Rochester, Western New York, Long Island
How significant is that?
Well, there are 110 dioceses in The Episcopal Church - which means that
Episcopal dioceses are affected by marriage equality.
Like math? Want more?
Look at the latest numbers for Communicants and Average Sunday Attendance. I know. We all know that these are just estimates, but let's work with what we've got.
There are a reported 1,795,325 Communicants in good standing in The Episcopal Church.
The Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) in The Episcopal Church is reported at 768,320.
If you look at the numbers for the 15 affected dioceses, there are a reported 664,166 Communicants.
The Average Sunday Attendance in those diocese is 28,334.
That means that 37% of Communicants in The Episcopal Church as well as those who attend our churches are directly affected by the pastoral concerns of their LGBT members who enjoy the civil right of marriage.
What does any of this have to do with recommendations of the ACC?
A whole lot.
We've been repeatedly asked to understand the contextual realities of the various dioceses and provinces in the World Wide Anglican Communion. And, I think we have made a serious effort to do just that.
It's time, however, to put the sacristy slipper on the other ecclesiastical foot.
The contextual realities of The Episcopal Church are that 27% of our dioceses and 37% of our Communicants in good standing are directly affected by the issue of marriage equality.
Isn't it ironic that the religious community, which has taken the lead on every Civil Rights issue - with the exception of the Americans with Disabilities Act - is woefully lacking in leadership on the issue of Civil Rights for its LGBT citizens?
Are we to turn our backs on this growing pastoral need in the name of unity?
How can we continue to honor the moratorium for authorization of liturgical rites of blessings for same gender couples when more and more states are moving ahead on the issue of civil rights for LGBT people?
I think the answer is obvious: Do the math!