The Washington National Cathedral, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors yearly, will become one of the first Episcopal congregations to perform rites for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members. As the nation’s most prominent church, the decision carries huge symbolism.
The 106-year-old cathedral hopes that by performing same-sex marriages and demonstrating acceptance there will be an opportunity to break down barriers and build a more inclusive community. The changes implemented will, hopefully, encourage acceptance and be the next step in marriage equality in our nation and culture, due to the cathedral's high profile. (LITERALLY.)
It will be anywhere from 6 months to a year before any same-sex marriages will be performed, as the church holds such a busy schedule and has a pre-marital counseling requirement, and generally only couples affiliated with the cathedral will be eligible. The change is allowed under a “local option” granted by the church’s General Convention, meaning that each priest in the diocese can decide whether or not to perform same-sex unions, but there has been mostly positive feedback from the community thus far.
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