Same-sex weddings may now be celebrated at the Washington National Cathedral, making the church that holds presidential inaugural prayer services one of the first Episcopal congregations to use a rite adapted from an existing blessing ceremony approved last summer.
“Washington National Cathedral has a long history of advancing equality for people of all faiths and perspectives,” the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, said in a news release Wednesday.
"For more than 30 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed and studied to discern the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of same-sex couples," he added. "We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of God — and doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation.”
The 106-year-old cathedral draws hundreds of thousands of visitors, hosting presidential inaugural services, including for Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Barack Obama, and funerals for Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.
The diocese covers the district and four counties in Maryland, where same-sex marriage is legal.
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, decided in December to allow an expansion of the Christian marriage sacrament. Hall, who has been an ordained minister for more than 35 years, ultimately led the cathedral’s decision and adaptation of the same-sex rite. He told The Associated Press he began performing same-sex blessings in 1990 when he served at All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif.
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