Church Times and New York Times
A rector in Connecticut has announced a moratorium on all weddings in his church, in order to express solidarity with same-sex couples. The Rector, the Revd Michael Ray, of St Thomas’s Episcopal Church in New Haven, is gay. His daughter, Catherine, had planned to marry at St Thomas’s this summer, but, as an expression of solidarity with her father, has opted instead for a civil ceremony,
Mr Ray announced his decision in a letter to the 115 families in his congregation earlier this month, after a ten-to-one vote by the church vestry in November asking him to “treat same-sex couples and different-sex couples equally when it comes to marriage”.
No gay couples have yet asked to be married at St Thomas’s , which, in 2000, adopted an inclusive policy of “supporting all persons, whatever their race, sexual orientation, gender, age, health status, physical ability, marital status, or state of spiritual journeying”. Two couples whose wedding is already booked at St Thomas’s will be allowed to proceed with the arrangements.
Mr Ray’s decision had divided thee church, and many families had already departed, the local newspaper reported. The Bishop of Connecticut, the Rt Revd Andrew Smith, is quoted as saying that the church’s canon clearly defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and that gay marriage was prohibited.
Mr Ray said that same-sex couples were deprived of many benefits available to married people. “If the Church takes the lead, it will help the civil issue,” he said. “We’re pushing the envelope, but our feeling is that any change requires somebody making waves”.