Last Sunday the people of St. Stephen’s voted overwhelmingly to support the blessing of same-sex relationships. This is not currently permitted in the Diocese of Calgary, so Parish Council has invited our bishop to meet with us to help us move forward on this issue. The bishop has also sought a personal meeting with our rector.
The Anglican Church of Canada does not include same-sex relationships in its definition of marriage. As a result, Anglican clergy are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. This may change, but it will require the consent of two consecutive meetings of General Synod, which meets every three years, meaning 2018 at the earliest.
In the meantime, some dioceses are offering a “blessing” to same-sex couples, which would not be accompanied by a civil marriage licence. Over one third of the Anglican dioceses across Canada have elected to offer what is being called a “local option,” that is, parishes may decide for themselves if they wish to offer same-sex blessings.
In our own diocese, the issue has not come up for discussion or debate. This leaves our clergy with the rule of the status quo, i.e. that neither blessings nor marriages of same-sex couples are permissible. Our support of same-sex blessings—as a step toward one day offering same-sex marriages—is our way of moving the issue onto the agenda of the diocese and also of affirming those from the wider LGBTQ community who, thus far, have been ignored by our church.