Tuesday, June 30, 2015

July 30 - Blogging GC'15

Marriage Resolutions 

Yesterday the House of Deputies passed Resolution A037, to continue, expand, and make more representative the Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

This action concurred with the earlier adoption by the House of Bishops, which passed A037 from the marriage committee unamended.

So that first part of the three-part bundle of marriage resolutions is accomplished.

The other two parts have come from the House of Bishops to the marriage committee and this morning were approved for submission to the House of Deputies.

The House of Bishops passed slightly amended versions of Resolutions A036 and A054:
  • A036 -- to amend the marriage canon, I.18, to make it gender-neutral, and 
  • A054 -- to extend approval of the GC'12 same-sex unions blessing liturgy and to approve for "trial use" the same-sex marriage liturgies, toward Prayer Book revision. 
The amendment to A036 was simply a clarification of language.

There were two amendments to A054 in the House of Bishops: (i) dropping from trial use the same-sex marriage liturgy based on the 1928 BCP, and (ii) specifying the provision for the authorization and oversight of diocesan bishops in the use of the two marriage liturgies approved for trial use.

Those two liturgies are a marriage rite based on the language approved at GC'12 for the blessings rite, but adding a section for marriage, and a marriage rite based on the 1979 BCP marriage rite. Both would be gender-neutral, so either could be used with proper authorizations by different-sex and same-sex couples equally.

The specification added by the House of Bishops concerning episcopal authority reads as follows:

"Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this Church to have access to these liturgies. Trial use is only available under the direction and with the permission of the Diocesan Bishop...."

This means that diocesan bishops have the prerogative whether to authorize trial use of the liturgies, whether for different-sex or same-sex couples, and if they do not authorize this use, they must "make provision" for the liturgies to be available for use by couples.

For instance, "provision" (in the quote above) could be made by allowing a couple and their priest go to a contiguous diocese where the diocesan bishop authorizes their use. This model of "provision" is currently being used by Bishop Ed Little in the Diocese of Northern Indiana for the blessings rite approved at GC'12.

A special order of business, with special rules for debate, is being worked out today for action by the House of Deputies on A036 and A054. The latest information I have is that this debate will begin tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 11:00 a.m. (Mountain Time).


UPDATE: The special order for debate will begin at 11:30 rather than 11:00 a.m. (Mountain Time).

UPDATE #2:  Because the resolutions on structure were not translated into Spanish for this afternoon's discussion, after over an hour into our proceeding, discussion of them was postponed until translation could be completed. I am now informed that the marriage resolutions scheduled for 11:30 a.m. will be considered in the afternoon. 


How might this turn out?

The House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops on A037 yesterday, after two unsuccessful attempts to amend A037, by voice vote with a resounding majority. So I have every expectation that A036 and A054 will also pass, but we are likely to be called upon to vote by Orders -- a move designed to make passage more difficult.

For a resolution to be approved by a deputation, 50% + 1 must approve it. In a vote by Orders, that means that BOTH 3 of 4 clergy deputies AND 3 of 4 lay deputies must support the resolution.

The voice vote yesterday on A037 suggested that opposition on that one at least was confined to three or four pockets of deputies at various points in our large meeting hall. If that is any indication, we should be able to pass A036 and A054 in the morning session tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

If you want moment by moment progress, I suggest you follow @DeputyNews on Twitter, which is how I followed the floor debate in the House of Bishops yesterday on A036 and A054, though I was on the floor of the House of Deputies at the time.

House of Deputies Photos

Here are some images related to voting in the House of Deputies and also of three of our DSO deputies who have addressed the House:

The voting device with the ID card inserted

Electronic vote results are displayed this way to the House of Deputies.
Debby Stokes (DSO Deputation Chair) was elected by a landslide!

Debby Stokes

Laura Gentner

The Rev. Canon Scott Gunn

Here is what the House of Deputies (about 815 people) looks like.

From the side:

From the back:

Please continue to pray for this great (large) Episcopal Church sausage-making factory!

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