National Cathedral to Allow Same-Sex Marriage: Is It Appropriate?


The LGBTQ community is still luxuriating in the aftermath of the historic 2012 national election, which boasted four cardinal victories in their quest for legally-recognized marriages. Now, another triumph can be added to the increasing tally: The Washington National Cathedral has agreed to expand the Christian marriage sacrament to include a new rite for same-gender couples. This makes the national cathedral one of the first Episcopal congregations to introduce this addition — and it’s a win worth celebrating, right?

After all, the Washington National Cathedral is one of the most venerated worship houses in the United States. In its 106-year history, the church has hosted presidential inaugural services, funerals and the last sermon of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., so opening its large, wooden doors to same-sex unions aligns with the historic nature of the home’s past.

The Washington National Cathedral, dubbed the “spiritual center of the nation” has long been heralded as the United States’ most prominent church, so the symbolism of their decision has anchored in the hearts and souls of those supporting the LGBTQ movement. However, one of the questions plaguing some non-supporters is whether or not it’s appropriate to wed same-sex couples in the national cathedral when there is no federal amendment guaranteeing this right.

The answer: Yes.

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, the cathedral's dean, told the Associated Press that performing same-sex marriages is “an opportunity to break down barriers and build a more inclusive community that reflects the diversity of God's world.”

"I read the Bible as seriously as fundamentalists do," Hall said. "And my reading of the Bible leads me to want to do this because I think it's being faithful to the kind of community that Jesus would have us be."

The Rev. believes that it is important to include marriage equality in conversations about religion.

"As a kind of tall-steeple, public church in the nation's capital, by saying we're going to bless same-sex marriages, conduct same-sex marriages, we are really trying to take the next step for marriage equality in the nation and in the culture," Hall said.

Though there is no federal amendment, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, argument in March. Currently, gay marriage is legal in nine states, including Washington State and Maryland. The consciousness of the U.S. is shifting, and the Episcopalian Church is as well.