Those Christians and Churches which support blessing of same-sex unions do so from several perspectives:
Those Christians and Churches which oppose same-sex unions and same-sex marriage do so from some or all of the following reasons:
Some people feel that same-sex unions are middle ground between same-sex marriage and condemnation of same-sex relationships. Unions as a 'legal status' between individuals does not by itself conflict with Church teachings about the sacredness of "Marriage".
The Episcopal Church USA, many dioceses of which permit the blessing of same-sex unions, nevertheless rejected at their 2006 General Convention a resolution allowing the solemnization of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is recognized by civil law.
According to a 2002 study by the Marriage Law Project, which opposes same-sex marriage, denominations claiming 97.6 percent of American Christians and 99.97 percent of Christians worldwide do not yet recognize same-sex marriage. A recent Pew research forum indicated that in the United States same-sex marriage is opposed by 55 percent of Catholics, 54 percent of Protestants, and 80 percent of evangelicals. The Pew study also showed that while 59% of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, a lower number (51 percent) oppose granting some legal rights to same-sex couples.
By nature of this religious understanding of marriage, when churches use the term "Union" in a same-sex blessing ceremony, they may or may not be blessing this union in an equivalent way as they would bless a "marriage" as opposed to blessing the commitment between the two individuals. Some Christian bodies are exploring the manner in which same-sex couples could or should be blessed (or not) by the church. Because same-sex religious unions are not widespread and because civil unions do not require religious officiation, documentation of the incidence of church blessing of same-sex couples is difficult.
Due to its "local option", a number of congregations and ministers of the United Church of Canada (a merger of Congregationalist, Presbyterian and Methodist congregations in Canada following presbyterian polity) officiate at same-sex marriages, which are fully legal in Canada.
In the Anglican Communion, Integrity Toronto has been divided over whether to continue pressing for same-sex blessings, or to revise their goals to seek full marriage rights.
The Church of Sweden is willing to allow same-sex marriage (under a different name) if it is legalised in Sweden. Currently, only civil unions are recognised in Sweden, and must precede a blessing service or Mass.
The predominantly gay Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches performs same-sex marriages.
The Mennonite Church in the Netherlands offers marriage to both heterosexual and same-gender couples .
The Unitarian Universalists perform same-sex marriages.
The Swedenborgian Church of North America allows ministers to choose whether to perform same-sex marriages.
Same-sex couples can be married under the care of many "unprogrammed" Quaker meetings. British Quaker meetings celebrate same-sex commitments by a special act of worship but none has yet called this marriage. In Australia, Canberra Quaker meeting celebrated the marriage of two gay men on 15 April 2007. Canberra Quakers and Queensland Quakers are prepared to celebrate same-sex marriages despite the lack of legal recognition. See Quaker views of homosexuality
Many smaller denominations, such as the Eucharistic Catholic Church also solemnize same-sex marriages.
In its report, known as the Windsor Report, the Commission put forward the following general findings”
The Commission called for a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions, and recommended that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada "be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation." The report was roundly condemned by the gay community and progressive theologians for its partiality. (For example, while it calls for both liberals and conservatives to express regret for actions contributing to disunity, it acknowledges that conservatives may have committed such actions out of a sense of duty, but extends no such understanding to the Dioceses of New Westminster or New Hampshire).
This was done in response to requests by three consecutive Diocesan Synods, culminating in June, 2002. The diocese considers that the blessing of same-sex couples is one part of their work of community outreach and care for parishioners. The blessing is a way that some priests use to ensure that homosexual people who seek to be included in the Anglican Communion feel safe and respected.
The blessing is a “pastoral tool”. Some priests in some parishes (six out of 80) bless permanent faithful relationships. Permission is granted by the bishop only when a priest requests it, and a parish has decided by majority vote, that they want to be a place of blessing. Ingham says of the practice:
The ordination of openly gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions within the Episcopal Church USA has led to some tension with the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Four churches of the Utrecht Union, which shares full communion with the Anglican Churches through the Bonn Agreement, also permit such blessings: namely, Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands (the mother church) permits blessings of gay civil marriages, and the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland, and Catholic Diocese of the Old Catholics in Germany permit blessings of gay civil unions. The Old Catholic Church of Austria also permits such blessings (no civil unions there). Because of this (as well as the ordination of women), the Old Catholic Church in Slovakia and Polish National Catholic Church (USA) seceded from the Union in 2004.
The Alliance of Baptists has supported the legal right to marry; its position on corollary church services is unclear.
The 2006 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted that blessing civil partnerships should be a matter of conscience for individual ministers. Conservatives in the Kirk argued that the reform would have to be ratified by local presbyteries.
"Gay friendly" Lutheran churches are known as congregations "Reconciling in ChristThis registry includes not only churches, but synods, organizations, Lutheran colleges, campus ministries, social ministry institutions, Lutheran Health Care establishments and other groups which openly welcome gays and lesbians in their community. The national Lutheran organization which advocates for equality for gays and lesbians inside and outside the church is know as "Lutherans concerned North America". Founded in 1974 Local chapters are found throughout the USA and Canada.
As of the 2007 Church Wide Assembly, non-celibate openly gay and lesbian men and women may may not serve as clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. However, as it turns out, many do. Without revising this rule, the Assembly resolved to "refrain from disciplining" any ministers who who are in committed same-sex relationships. In essence one could say gay pastors are "decriminalized" in the ELCA.
In the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, neither allowing gay pastors, nor same-sex unions is under discussion. Leaders in the Missouri Synod consider that this recent decision by the ELCA has strained relations between the two US Lutheran Church bodies.
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, which does not allow the ordination of homosexual pastors, also does not allow the blessing of same-sex unions or marriages. Differing greatly from ELCA, the WELS does not allow the union of gay couples, even if the couples have loving relationships.
ELCA grassroots conservative groups like the Word Alone Network and Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christwhich generally uphold traditional teachings would tend to oppose moves toward same-sex blessings, etc. However, while the pro-gay rights Good Soil resolutions have had strongly organized support on a national level, opposition to them from conservatives has thus far been somewhat scattered. According to ELCA national presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, as far as affirming gay clergy and same-sex unions, Lutherans want change but they want it slowly.
These Lutheran, United and Reformed churches in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands and Austria bless same-gender unions.
The Presbyterian Church USA has a limited allowance for such blessings, but does not officially endorse that the unions be consummated.
The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) has ruled that same-sex ceremonies are not forbidden, as long as they are not considered to be the same as marriage services.
The Moravian Church in North America's Northern Province has passed several liberal resolutions on homosexuality, but has not yet been able to "address the issue of a marriage covenant between homosexual persons".
The Protestant Church in the Netherlands has chosen not to address marriage in its post-merger canon law; however, the by-laws of the church allow for the blessing of relationships outside of marriage.
Some ministers of the Unity School of Christianity officiate at commitment ceremonies. The Church prints certificates to recognise these occasions.
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