The US Episcopal Church has overruled a diocese in upstate New York after its bishop initiated a ban on same-sex marriage.
Rev. William Love had implemented the ban in the Albany-based diocese in November 2018.
Love justified the move by saying that the church had been ‘hijacked by the Gay Rights Agenda’.
On Friday, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote in a letter on Friday (11 January) that Love’s action ‘may constitute a canonical offense’.
In a letter overruling Love’s directive, Curry wrote: ‘As Presiding Bishop I am called upon to take steps to ensure that same-sex marriage in The Episcopal Church is available to all persons to the same extent and under the same conditions in all Dioceses of the Church where same-sex marriage is civilly legal.’
Love may face disciplinary action for issuing the directive, which has been referred for a review by Church officials.
While the case is pending, Curry has imposed restrictions on Love’s authority.
This forbids Love from penalizing members of the diocese if they are involved in arranging or participating in same-sex marriages, the Washington Post reports.
‘Hijacked by the “Gay Rights Agenda”‘
In July, leaders from the Episcopal Church passed a same-sex marriage resolution which allows bishops with religious objections to refer same-sex marriages to different bishops, which went into effect on 2 December.
However, Love is the only bishop who refused to comply with the resolution entirely.
In a letter ordering the ban, Love wrote: ‘The Episcopal Church and Western Society have been hijacked by the “Gay Rights Agenda,” which is very well organized, very strategic, very well financed, and very powerful.
‘While I obviously would rather not have had disciplinary actions taken against me, and hope to see it overturned in the near future, I will abide by the restrictions placed on me by the Presiding Bishop during the appeal process,’ he added.
Love has said that he will be appealing the decision, but will abide by the restrictions which have been imposed during the disciplinary review process.
Following the Supreme Court’s example
The US Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples in July 2015.
The House of Bishops approved a resolution which eliminated language defining marriage as between a man and a woman by 129-26, with five abstaining.
The Church’s decision came less than a week after the US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.
Part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church has about 2 million members in the US.
In 2012, the Church became the largest US religious denomination to approve a liturgy for clergy to use in blessing same-sex unions. This includes for gay marriages in states where they were already legal.
In 2003, the church elected its first openly gay bishop Gene Robinson. He has since retired.
Author: Calum Stuart
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