Orange, CA (6/26/2013)  Presiding Bishop Peter E. Hickman of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion released this statement in response to the Supreme Court’s rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8.  Bishop Hickman applauds the Supreme Court’s actions, and encourages continued efforts to bring full equality for all gay and lesbian individuals in each state.  

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Today the Supreme Court handed down decisions in two important cases. It struck down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, therebyextending federal rights and protections for legally marred same sex couples.  And, it dismissed an appeal regarding California’s Proposition 8, clearing the way for same sex marriage to resume in California. We applaud the Court for taking these steps, and look forward to the changes which these decisions will bring about in our society. 

While these rulings are positive steps forward, they are only two steps in the  process of establishing equal rights and protections for all. Currently, same sex couples are allowed to legally marry in only a handful of states.  We must continue the efforts to bring full equality for all in each state. 

Since some have opposed the extension of legal rights and protections to same sexed couples on religious grounds, we offer our perspective on this matter as Ecumenical Catholics.  We affirm the goodness of creation, and the human body, in the context of the incarnation of God in Christ. We regard the teaching of Jesus, and of the whole New Testament, as overpoweringly in favor of love of neighbor and concern for the welfare of others. Therefore, we maintain that gay and lesbian persons should be accorded the same dignity and freedom that is the gift of our Creator.

The community of faith continues to develop our understanding that the love of God is present in all creation, and therefore in every human being irrespective of race, gender or sexual orientation. The moral issue for Christians is not whether love is homosexual or heterosexual, or on a continuum between these two. The moral issue is the extent to which our love is characterized by the fruits of the Spirit (i.e., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). This applies to all people, whatever their sexual orientation. And it is the standard by which Christian behavior is evaluated.

Therefore, we welcome gay and lesbian individuals and couples fully into our faith communities. And, we proudly count among our ordained clergy a number of gay and lesbian individuals.  We embrace these sisters and brothers, welcome them into the household of faith, and provide a context in which to live out the ideals of love, fidelity and commitment to one another. In order to strengthen their shared life together in Christ we offer, to those who desire it, the graces of a holy union blessed by the Church, including legal marriage in those states where this is currently possible.

We applaud the actions taken today by our highest Court.  These decisions resonate with our experience, individually and communally.  We encourage others to embrace these decisions, and to continue efforts to extend these legal rights and protections to all of our citizens.  We particularly call upon religious leaders from every perspective to embrace these decisions; to see in them the expansion of the boundaries of justice for our citizens, and an opportunity for our society to move in the direction of increased tolerance and respect for the natural diversity in all of God’s creation.  

Most Rev. Peter E. Hickman

Presiding Bishop

Ecumenical Catholic Communion

Contact

Rev. Thomas Altepeter
PR@ecumenical-catholic-communion.org
509-361-0463

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