Thursday, November 5, 2009

MAINE: Bishop 'grieved' over defeat of same-gender marriage law


By Mary Frances Schjonberg, November 04, 2009

Episcopal Diocese of Maine Bishop Stephen T. Lane said Nov. 3 that he joins the "many Episcopalians [who] are deeply grieved" by Maine voters' rejection of that state's same-gender marriage law.
At 1 a.m. Nov. 4, with 87 percent of the state's precincts reporting, 52.8 percent of Mainers had voted to repeal the law, versus 47.2 percent who voted to keep it, according to the Portland, Maine, Press Herald newspaper.

In a statement posted on the diocese's website, Lane said that many faithful Episcopalians "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, Lane had submitted testimony in favor of the then-proposed law during a legislative hearing. Maine Governor John Baldacci signed the law in May, but it never took effect because of a petition drive that 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 July 8-17 General Convention in Anaheim, California, deputies and bishops passed Resolution C056 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 generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church."

In Anaheim, Lane had sponsored Resolution B012 which asked for that permission. That resolution was melded with others and the original C056.

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

"Whether you are saddened or thankful, please know that you remain in my prayers," he added.

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