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Episcopal Church: Same-sex couples can marry anywhere

By Susan McFarland
Episcopal Church: Same-sex couples can marry anywhere
The Rev. Devon Anderson and Julia Ayala Harris, taking part in a prayer service in T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. They were part of more than 1,000 Episcopalians transported from the Austin Convention Center during the General Convention which wrapped up Friday. Action out of the convention included the Episcopal Church removing restrictions on same-sex marriage. Photo courtesy Episcopal News Service/Episcopal Church

July 14 (UPI) -- The Episcopal Church removed restrictions on same-sex marriage, a move that allows all couples to wed where they worship, even if their bishop disapproves.

The action came out of discussions at the General Convention, which wrapped up its triennial meeting in Austin, Texas, on Friday.

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Same-sex couples are already allowed to marry across most Episcopal Churches in the United States, but a few U.S. dioceses had not permitted religious wedding ceremonies for this type union.

Friday's decision overrides previous decisions by local dioceses to not allow the liturgies, which currently includes eight of the of the nation's 101 Episcopal dioceses -- Albany, N.Y.; Central Florida; Dallas; Florida; North Dakota; Springfield, Ill.; Tennessee; and the Virgin Islands.

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No one spoke against the resolution during a short debate by the House of Deputies, the news service affiliated with the Episcopal Church said.

The Rev. Scot McComas, a deputy from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, had told his colleagues if they passed the resolution they would be acting as pastors to all the people of the Episcopal Church.

"For 40 years our LGBT brothers and sisters have been at the back of the bus and, every so often, they are invited to move forward one row at a time," McComas said.

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The resolution, while being designed to allow same-sex couples to be married in the church, also does not alienate traditionalists.

Dallas Bishop George Sumner told The Dallas Morning News if the circumstance should arise in his diocese, he would reach out to a neighboring bishop to oversee the ceremony, something that is allowed under the resolution.

"We're probably more traditional than other dioceses in the Episcopal Church," Sumner said. "The convention has given us a space to do that."

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Bishop John Bauerschmidt, Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee, also believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Bauerschmidt on Saturday said in an email to the Tennessean, "there is much to work out.."

"It also preserves the ministry of bishops as chief pastors and teachers in our dioceses," Bauerschmidt said. "We will be working out what it means for our diocese with clergy and congregations in the coming days."

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