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Feb 16, 2012 | Mary Frances Schjonberg

Washington State's Two Bishops Support Same Gender Marriage Law

The bishops of both the Episcopal dioceses of Olympia and Spokanewill make provisions for their clergy to operate within the state of Washington’s new same-gender marriage law.


Governor Christine Gregoire signed legislation into law Feb. 13. The law takes effect in June. Opponents of the statute have vowed to seek its repeal through a ballot measure in November that could delay enactment further or halt it entirely, Reuters reported.


The Olympia diocese will “accommodate” the new law “within its structure,” according to a statement made prior to the legislation being signed into law.


A short statement under the heading of “Marriage Equality” on the diocesan website notes that Olympia’s decision is “much as other Episcopal dioceses have in states where similar legislation has passed.”


Prior to the Washington bill becoming law, Olympia Bishop Greg Rickel had left it to individual clergy to decide whether to bless same-gender civil unions, according to the statement.


Rickel said in a blog post on Feb. 1, anticipating the law’s passage and enactment, that he supported the bill. He said that “fidelity is the value in most all our sacraments and also in our life as Christians” and yet “it seems to me we have held our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in a “’catch-22.’″


“We say they cannot live up to our value because they cannot be married, or even blessed in their union. While many of them have begged for this, it is still not possible,” the bishop wrote. “What they ask of us, the church and the government, is to put boundaries around their relationship, to hold them in the same regard and with the same respect, which would also mean that we expect the same from them. They are not asking for special treatment. They are asking for equal treatment.”


Read the rest of the story at Episcopal News Service.