Joy at Trans inclusion

After a week working alongside the TransEpiscopal delegation, and members of Integrity, it was sad to be leaving General Convention with the final outcome of the Trans non-discrimination resolutions, D002 and D019, still undecided. In this photograph, taken on Monday, I am in the Westin Hotel lobby with Cameron Partridge, Gari Green and Donna Cartwright, just before leaving for the airport while they made their way to the House of Deputies where the resolutions were scheduled to be heard later in the afternoon.

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Compared to the House of Bishops, the House of Deputies is a huge body comprised of 4 clergy representatives and 4 lay representatives for each of the 111 dioceses of the Episcopal Church. In the House of Bishops voting is still done the old fashioned way (‘those in favour say aye’ – ‘those against say no’) with the occasional show of hands if the two sets of voices sound evenly matched.

In the House of Deputies, with nearly a thousand people, voting can be done electronically, but I’ve seen a photograph of Sarah Lawton at the end of this particular debate – Sarah was one of the sponsors of D002 and D019 – and it seems that there was a vote by orders (clergy and lay) with each diocesan delegation voting  on paper, which can  be quite time consuming. As the TransEpiscopal delegation waited, in the public area, for the resolutions to be brought forward and then for this tortuous vote on D002, they were nervous but expectant. It was the President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, who relieved the tension, making people laugh, when she admitted that she had been waiting for the vital piece of paper with the totals only to learn that its was already on the desk in front of her. This is what it said:

Yes: Lay: 94 Clergy: 95
No: Lay: 11 Clergy: 16
Divided: Lay: 5 Clergy: 0

I would love to have been there to share in the joy that followed, and which continued last night at the celebration for Louie Crew, followed by the Integrity Eucharist, when Bishop Gene Robinson preached and Bishop Mary Glasspool presided. It seems a shame to have gone all the way to Indy, played my small part, and then to have missed the scenes of jubilation, but my heart is pretty full anyway with all that I have seen and heard at the 77th General Convention where further steps are being made on the road to full inclusion. As I said several times while I was there: the Episcopal Church is an inspiration and a beacon of hope to many of us in the Church of England and in the Anglican Communion.

Comments

  1. Sarah Lawton says

    Tina, it was great to have you here with us at General Convention.

    Point of further clarification – a House of Deputies “vote by orders,” which may be called for at any time by a certain number of deputations, essentially requires a super-majority. Each order, lay and ordained within each deputation, casts a single vote. Divided votes are counted as one no, and 3-1 against within a deputation order is counted as one no. This requires a heavy burden to reach yes – a small “c” conservative process for making change.

    Every vote on LGBT inclusion in my General Convention memory has been called to a vote by orders by those dioceses that opposed the resolutions. We’ve had clear majorities on these issues for at least twelve years, but have now reached the super-majority. Well over 67% – probably more like 80% on blessings and closer to 90% on trans inclusion. The photo you saw showed my deputation voting unanimously in favor for D002 (access to ordination process for transgender persons). Happy Day!

    It’s been a long train ride to get here. So glad to be both participant and witness.

    Sarah Lawton
    Lay Deputy, Diocese of California

  2. says

    It was lovely to meet you Sarah and thanks for this very helpful clarification. Had I still been at General Convention when the decision was made in the House of Deputies I would have got clarification on the procedures. Reaching a super-majority is so impressive – something for us to aim for in the Church of England! Tina

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