Statement of the Episcopal Bishop of California on Yesterday’s Court Ruling

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The California Supreme Court ruled today that in California all people have the constitutional right to marry and raise a family, regardless of sexual orientation. Below is the text of a statement from Bishop Marc in response to the ruling: I welcome the ruling of the California Supreme Court affirming the fundamental right of all people to marry and establish a family. All children of God should be afforded the same rights under the law, and this decision recognizes that all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation, have equal access to one of our fundamental human institutions. This decision gives our church another opportunity to partner with our state to ensure that all families have the support they need to build relationships that strengthen our communities, state and country. Jesus tried to free his disciples from a narrow definition of what it means to be his follower. In Matthew 10:42, Jesus says “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” God affirms the good in the world outside the boundaries of religious creeds and dogmas. In this spirit, we also affirm and rejoice in this decision by the California Supreme Court precisely because we are Christians. Clearly, this momentous decision will have ecclesial implications for the Episcopal Diocese of California. I intend to be in prayerful consultation with the people of our diocese to see how we can use this decision to strengthen our support of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers, and our witness to God’s inclusive love. The Diocese of California will issue an appropriate statement in due course.

--The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus is Bishop of California

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships

Posted May 17, 2008 at 4:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Phil wrote:

Well, all people don’t have the constitutional right to marry and raise a family, regardless of sexual orientation.  Incestuous couples don’t have that right, and those oriented to polyamory don’t have that right.  Why they don’t, based on the logic of the deconstructionists, I don’t know; but they don’t.  For now.

May 17, 5:19 pm | [comment link]
2. Dave B wrote:

I don’t think marriage is a right.  Marriage is an institution regulated by the state.  For the Church, marriage is a sacrament that is an outward sign of Gods inward grace.  How can God bestow grace on that which he condemned? Jesus blessed marriage between a man and a woman.  A MAN and a WOMAN leave their parents and cleave one to the other.

May 17, 5:31 pm | [comment link]
3. David+ wrote:

And two Episcopal bishops in California take one more giant step away from the Episcopal Church’s Creed that says we believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.  Oh, I forgot that they had replaced the Creeds with the gay agenda.  Foolish me.  And last week I finally learned we had replaced the Great Commission with the MDGs.  Next week I will probably learn why I need no longer attend church on Sunday mornings.  Just show up at the Kewanis Club.

May 17, 5:49 pm | [comment link]
4. Grandmother wrote:

I wonder, if +++Rowan has already had a “chat” with him.
Or does this decision make the Windsor Report and Lambeth
null and void?

Gloria, in SC

(born in Calif, and ever so glad to be on the opposite coast)

May 17, 6:32 pm | [comment link]
5. Larry Morse wrote:

For those of y ou in California, do you think that the petition has the backing to override the Supremes idiocy - sorry not nice - the Supreme’s evasion of the constitution and their despotic overruling of the people’s will. There. That’s more genteel, in’t it. Larry

May 17, 6:42 pm | [comment link]
6. D Hamilton wrote:



I dare say that local Kiwanis Clubs are doing more Christian-like ministry than most local Episcopal Churches and a greatly lower overhead and with a happier hearts.


May 17, 6:52 pm | [comment link]
7. Dan Crawford wrote:

If we are honest, we would acknowledge that the Episcopal Church has had nothing significant or useful to say to married couples and families for nearly thirty years. The “teaching document” on Human Sexuality dropped on the church in 1994 was, in addition to being an intellectual, to say nothing of a moral, embarrassment, the definitive indication that the institution formerly known as ECUSA was no longer capable of upholding any Christian understanding of marriage, let alone the one found in the Book of Common Prayer. Young families understand this, and are seeking support in churches where leaders speak clearly and forthrightly about God’s plan for men, women and children. Meanwhile, the institution formerly known as ECUSA will blather on and on about “prayerful consultation . . .  to strengthen support of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers”.

May 17, 7:10 pm | [comment link]
8. Tom Roberts wrote:

“...another opportunity to partner with our state ...”
Either this is scary or simply inappropriate for a church to posit.

May 17, 8:01 pm | [comment link]
9. Ralph wrote:

It seems odd that the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, under the authority of the Southern Cone, would not have made a most strongly worded statement in opposition to the court decision and supporting traditional concepts of marriage.

May 17, 8:11 pm | [comment link]
10. deaconmark wrote:

So here is what i don’t understand.  The traditional understanding of marriage in both culture and Church is one man and one woman, ONE TIME, with the assumption that both are virgins and that the marriage “act” is always open to conception (ie, no birth control).  Why do you so easily overlook divorce and contraception, when this is the faith once given??  It gives the impression that your faith is simply shaped by your prejudice and you are willing to point out the mote in your neighbor’s eye while overlooking the log in your own.  Am i incorrect?  Have i misunderstood?

May 17, 9:45 pm | [comment link]
11. Paula Loughlin wrote:

Hey I’m Catholic don’t look at me.

May 17, 10:38 pm | [comment link]
12. Daniel Muth wrote:

“deaconmark” #10 -
Yes, you are incorrect and you have misunderstood.  You point out quite correctly the Church’s timeless ideal.  That many if not most fall short and have always fallen short is a sad reality of life in a sinful, broken world.  As should be quite obvious if you are actually listening to people in this space and not trying to score cheap rhetorical points, things like remarriage after divorce, attempts to divide the marital act from procreation, and sexual intimacy prior to marriage are universally recognized here to miss the mark of Divine intent to one extent or another.  Divorce is always a tragedy and a failure and is never to be celebrated by Christians.  No one here takes it lightly and it is as tiresome as it is calumnous to blithly throw around the old “bigotry” cheapshot. 

The bishop is flat-out wrong.  The fact is that homosexuals have and have always had the right to marry, and even to marry other homosexuals.  They and we and everybody have always been prevented by the definition of the word from marrying people of the same sex.  And no ideological shenanigans by berobed imperialists can ever change that. 

Like most here, I doubt not, I very much appreciate the good intentions of the avatars of the homosexual movement.  I am not in the least impressed by the arguments they continually make and for the life of me can’t see why they find them convincing.  I find the position taken by the Justices in this case unimpressive intellectually, however well intended, and am absolutely convinced that the usual disasterous results of the Law of Unintended Consequences will attend this decision should it stand.  It is always and will always be a grave mistake to take benefits intended for families and extend them to groups of people that are not families.  This decision will not help those it is intended to and will harm those it intends not to.  Those who ask why it should merely, to these eyes, display their naivete.  Those who insist that we who disagree with the opinion do so merely because of prejudice are, I sincerely hope, simply hard of hearing.  The accusation is tiresome, uncalled for, unfair, and acts only to damage useful dialogue.  Please stop tossing it around.

May 17, 11:10 pm | [comment link]
13. Laocoon wrote:

You’re right, we should be opposed to all ways in which sex, love, marriage and family are demeaned by current contemporary practices.  And I agree with your implication that we should affirm that sex is for married couples only; all others should remain chaste.  And I agree with you that the church should gratefully welcome all pregnancies (though I do not agree that tradition has proscribed thoughtful planning or medicine - not sure where you get that from, but if you want to have a lot of kids all I ask is that you love and teach them well).  So, in short, I’m with you - we as Christians should do all we can to affirm and protect the sanctity of life and marriage.

However, I should point out that I am a hypocrite, that my thinking is often poor, and that my faith is wretched and, yes, shaped by my prejudices.  I can only hope that by clinging to tradition and to the faith once given, to the cloud of witnesses that have gone before us, will I ever come close to getting it right.  This is a good part of why I am opposed to rapid innovations in the definition of marriage.



May 17, 11:21 pm | [comment link]
14. Albany* wrote:

Are you better off now than you were thirty years ago?

May 17, 11:33 pm | [comment link]
15. Cennydd wrote:

#9   Ralph, be patient!  I’m quite sure that +John-David will say something about it soon.  I can tell you this, though:  There will NEVER be any gay “marriages” in this diocese.  No clergyman can be forced to perform a marriage which violates his conscience, and the state cannot force a clergyman to perform such a ceremony, since for the state to do so, it would amount to a violation of the Separation of Church and State clause in the U.S. Constitution.  Churches are not going to be forced to recognize such “marriages” in any event, and for the same reason.

May 17, 11:34 pm | [comment link]
16. Sidney wrote:

Total number of Roman Catholics who support gay marriage who will switch to the Episcopal Church upon reading the bishops’ messages: 0.

May 18, 12:45 am | [comment link]
17. Ralph wrote:

#15, Cennydd. The Roman bishops are doing a good job of denouncing the ruling. We all await hearing from SJ, and other faithful Anglican bishops worldwide. Impatiently.

The 2009 GC of TEC will be held in Anaheim. If the proposed constitutional amendment doesn’t pass, one might predict that there will be a gay church wedding (Unholy Matrimony, Rite 666) held during GC, and one might also predict that the PB will be involved, perhaps presiding over the whole New Thing.

Furthermore, recall that one of the mandates of a past GC has been mandatory WO. While that’s not the topic of this thread, one might envision a canonical change mandating SSB (or, as law permits, marriage) in every diocese.

The orthodox bishops of The Episcopal Church (and the Anglican Communion) need to be thinking now of ways to prevent all of those things from happening. A strongly-worded statement on the California mess is a starting point.

May 18, 7:32 am | [comment link]
18. Larry Morse wrote:

Once again, are there Californians out there who can tell me whether the referendum is likely to pass? Is there any real hope? I wish there were some way I could help the referendum to kill the supreme’s unconscionable derailing of the people’s earlier decision.

  As to divorce and scripture and the like. I am divorced and glad of it because my life was miserable beyond description. The divorce itself however was a horror, and its effects on my children will never wear off. AND SO THEY SHOULDN’T.  Divorce may sometimes be necessary as may abortion, but nothing ever makes it right. So I have remarried, and I have been blessed, if I can put it that way.
And now, for me, what? There is only one thing, that I must throw myself at the feet of God’s mercy that he will temper his justice. I think of all the things I have done wrong, and t he things I didn’t do that I should have done, and I am in the same place, over and over, that I have to throw myself down before God’s mercy and beg for his charity, because in this life, like so many others, I have failed to do the right thing.,and my guilt cannot be expunged save by His mercy.
There is no help for this.  Larry

May 18, 7:36 am | [comment link]
19. Katherine wrote:

#18, I think what you express is similar to the treatment of divorce in Orthodox churches, although they are very specific as to the acceptable causes for divorce.  They view divorce as a sin, and before a layperson can remarry he undergoes a period of repentance and separation from communion.  The second marriage, if it comes, is solemnized with a different liturgy, one which acknowledges the sin and looks for renewed life.

Orthodox priests cannot remarry, period, no matter what happened to the first wife (death, abandonment, adultery).

May 18, 7:48 am | [comment link]
20. Ken Peck wrote:

Furthermore, recall that one of the mandates of a past GC has been mandatory WO. While that’s not the topic of this thread, one might envision a canonical change mandating SSB (or, as law permits, marriage) in every diocese.

No canonical change is required. It is already part of the canon which prohibits discrimination based on race, sex or sexual orientation.

No one shall be denied rights, status or access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise specified by Canons. Title I, Canon 17, §5

That canon is already being cited with respect to ordinations of gays and lesbians and to SSB.

May 18, 8:01 am | [comment link]
21. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

From New Hampshire to California to the world!

May 18, 9:47 am | [comment link]
22. w.w. wrote:

From Rowan’s to-do list:

Must ring +Bruno and +Andrus. What were they thinking???!!! ++Kate and I are trying to sell TEC’s responsiveness to Windsor to the rest of the Communion, and these chaps aren’t being helpful.


May 18, 4:14 pm | [comment link]
23. Rev. Patti Hale wrote:

#8 Thank you.  I was most disturbed by that statement as well.  We must look to the Word of God not to the approval of the state.

May 18, 5:28 pm | [comment link]
24. Cennydd wrote:

Larry, if this petition to place an amendment of the California Constitution on the November ballot succeeds, I think it stands an excellent chance of passing, knowing the general mood of everyone I have talked to and corresponded with.  We have 27 churches in our town, and with the exception of the local ELCA parish, they’re in favor of such an amendment.

May 18, 11:05 pm | [comment link]
25. Planonian wrote:

#24 Can you explain why your particular religious viewpoints should be able to trump the desire for civil marriages for people who don’t share those viewpoints ? (mind you, responses like “because the Bible tells me so” don’t cut it - that’s circular reasoning)

IMHO, the church should get out of the civil marriage game altogether. “Civil unions” for all consenting adults, gay or straight, and let each church offer Holy Matrimony as they see fit - w/o gov’t interference.

May 19, 12:09 pm | [comment link]
26. NoVA Scout wrote:

This ruling has no impact on Christian sacraments or doctrine.  It in no way compels any religion to sanctify a same-sex marriage.  The confusion arises because the state uses the word “marriage” to describe what it does in its regulation of commitments of couples.  That’s the real problem.

May 21, 5:14 am | [comment link]
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