Couples affiliated with the life of the Cathedral are eligible to be married there.
Episcopal Church is a small but highly prominent part of American
Christianity The church has long been supportive of equality for gay men
"It's something for us to say we are going to do this in
this very visible space where we pray for the president and where we
bury leaders," the Reverend Gary Hall, who became dean of Washington
National Cathedral, says. "This national spiritual space is now a place
where [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people can come and get
The vast majority of houses of worship don't host blessings or weddings for people of the same gender.
Episcopal Church, with two million members, has been something of an
exception. Dozens of parishes have broken with the denomination over the
The Washington diocese, which includes the District and
the Maryland suburbs, has more than 80 parishes, most of which host
Longtime observers estimated that more than half of
parishes across the denomination host the blessings.
Episcopal clergy in
Washington have been overseeing blessings for commitment ceremonies for
same-sex couples since about the 1980s.
In addition, the church
has approved a rite for same-sex blessings. Previously, clergy adapted
the rite used for heterosexual couples.
marriage [ritual] still has some vestiges of patriarchy, with woman
being property. There's hope in same-sex marriage that it is a teachable
moment for heterosexual couples. The new rite is grounded in baptism
and radical equality of all people before God," Hall says.
"I'd like to use it for heterosexual weddings because I think it's so much better than our marriage services."
Masci, a senior researcher at the Pew Forum who has focused on the
issue of same-sex marriage and religion, notes that the larger U.S.
faith communities, such as the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist
Convention and most of the nondenominational Christian world - "aren't
even considering these sorts of things."
Masci notes that younger evangelicals generally seem more open on the topic of homosexuality than middle-aged or older ones.