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Image credit: Episcopal Diocese of NY

Episcopal Church affirms nationwide marriage equality, rejecting Albany Bishop's anti-LGBTQ tirade

December 10, 2018

On November 11, 2018, Albany’s Reverend William Love published a dangerous directive, barring same-sex couples to be married in Episcopal Churches in upstate New York. The pastoral directive from Reverend Love came in opposition three weeks before the resolution went into effect setting rules for marriage in Episcopal churches, on December 2, 2018. The resolution, which was overwhelmingly approved, gave all Episcopalians—regardless of gender—the ability to be married in Episcopal churches nationwide.

In Love’s letter, he claims, “The Episcopal Church and Western Society have been hijacked by the ‘Gay Rights Agenda’” and, “Recent statistics show that The Episcopal Church is spiraling downward…[and] that God has removed His blessing from this Church.”

Despite not providing any reasonable evidence supporting his biased claims, Reverend Love believes, “The Episcopal Church is going to die,” if marriage equality is supported, and “Satan is having a heyday bringing division into the Church over these issues”. So much so, he’s willing to remove his diocese from the Church if this resolution is not stopped.

Congregations in the area are speaking out against this directive and making sure their voices are being heard. Internal pushback against the bishop happened just mere hours after the directive was released, with Parishioners at St. Andrew’s parish in Albany burning Love’s eight-page directive outside their church in protest of his bigotry.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who heads the Church nationally but does not have local control, released a statement on the directive, claiming, “[The leaders of the Episcopal Church] are committed to the principle of full and equal access to, and inclusion in, the sacraments for all of the baptized children of God, including our LGBTQ siblings.”  Along with other leaders, he’s concerned over, “...the implications of the statement” and he will, “make determinations about appropriate actions soon.”

Bishop Love is out of touch with what the vast majority of Episcopalians and Christians believe about welcoming LGBTQ+ people. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, “Roughly two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (67%), white Catholics (66%), Orthodox Christians (66%), and Hispanic Catholics (65%) also favor same-sex marriage.”

When marriage equality was federally recognized in 2015, 83% of Episcopalians reported being accepting of the LGBTQ+ community.

Supporting LGBTQ+ people of faith is important, because the consequences of staying silent against homophobia within the Church are grave, especially for youth exploring their nascent sexualities. Early this year, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine Studies revealed, “an increased importance of religion was associated with higher odds of recent suicide ideation for both gay/lesbian and questioning students.” For some individuals, especially those identifying as bisexual, this meant an increase of “lifetime suicide attempts,” too.

With many LGBTQ+ individuals having negative experiences with religion, discussions surrounding inclusivity and faith can be challenging. The majority lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults feel that most major faiths are unwelcoming to their community, despite how a majority of these individuals have a religious affiliation.

But these discussions must be had in Churches of all denominations. From building community to absolving stereotypes, there’s so much to learn from each other to make us more loving and compassionate people.

Every member of the church needs to understand issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity, if they’re going to truly be our allies. LGBTQ+ youth are only going to feel like they belong in a congregation if both their fellow worshipers and leaders in the church demonstrate love, compassion, and respect towards queer, transgender, and intersex people. And this can only happen with open and honest conversation.

Regardless of whatever happens to the Episcopal Church in Albany, queer people will always exist. And nothing can stop us from loving one another.

Nick Fiorellini is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and junior at Bard College studying literature. He is member of the school’s QSA, Christian Fellowship, and is currently in the process of reviving the Hudson Sexuality and Gender Discussion Group.

the voice and vision of a new generation