US bishop 'grieves' over defeat of same-sex marriage law

By agency reporter
November 9, 2009

The US Episcopal Bishop of Maine, Stephen T. Lane has said he joins the "many Episcopalians [who] are deeply grieved" by Maine voters' rejection of that state's same-gender marriage law last week.

Mary Frances Schjonberg of the Episcopal News Service writes: At 01.00 on 4 November 2009, with 87 per cent of the state's precincts reporting, 52.8 per cent of Mainers had voted to repeal the law, versus 47.2 per cent who voted to keep it, according to the Portland, Maine, Press Herald newspaper.

In a statement posted on the Maine diocese's website, Lane said that many faithful Episcopalians (Anglicans in the US) "had hoped that they and their families might enjoy the recognition and protections afforded heterosexual couples."

"The rejection of the law also feels like rejection of them as persons. I join in their grief that the right of same-gender couples to enter into a lifelong, monogamous marriage has been denied," he continued.

"At the same time I know there are other faithful Episcopalians who are thankful about the election results. I understand that this matter has been a matter of conscience for them."

In April 2009, Lane had submitted testimony in favor of the then-proposed law during a legislative hearing. The Governor of Maine, John Baldacci, signed the law in May but it never took effect because of a petition drive which succeeded in placing the question on the fall general election ballot.

Lane said in his statement that after the governor signed the law, he began work on a set of guidelines for clergy to use with legal same-gender marriage.

"These guidelines will not be distributed," he said. "However, I will continue to work with a small group to consider the ways we may support the faithful, monogamous relationships of faithful gay and lesbian Episcopalians."

During the Episcopal church's 8-17 July General Convention in Anaheim, California, deputies and bishops passed a resolution calling for the development of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships to be considered at the next meeting of convention in 2015.

Meanwhile, the resolution said, "bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide [a] generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church."

In Anaheim, Lane had sponsored a resolution which asked for that permission. That resolution was melded with others and the original.

The Episcopal Church in Maine will continue to welcome all people, Lane said in his statement, and "we will continue to strive for justice and peace among all people."

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