WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The Washington National Cathedral, one of the world's largest cathedrals, will begin hosting same-sex marriages, Washington diocese leaders say.
Observers say the announcement, expected Wednesday, isn't surprising because the denomination and the diocese both advocate marriage equality, The Washington Post reported.
Still, "it's something for us to say we are going to do this in this very visible space where we pray for the president and where we bury leaders," said the Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington National Cathedral. "This national spiritual space is now a place where [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people can come and get married."
This summer, the denomination approved a rite for same-sex blessings, the Post said. Previously, the rite used for heterosexual couples was adapted for same-sex couples.
"[The] heterosexual marriage [ritual] still has some vestiges of patriarchy, with woman being property. There's hope in same-sex marriage that it is a teachable moment for heterosexual couples," Hall said. "The new rite is grounded in baptism and radical equality of all people before God. ... I'd like to use it for heterosexual weddings because I think it's so much better than our marriage services."
Mark Masci, senior researcher at the Pew Forum who studies the issue of same-sex marriage and religion, said U.S. mainline Protestant denominations, such as Episcopalians, Presbyterians and United Methodists, have had the most turmoil about the matter while communities such as the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and most non-denominational faiths "aren't even considering these sorts of things."
Masci told the Post it was impossible to predict the issue's path, but noted younger evangelicals generally seem more open than middle-aged or older ones.