Bishop Lee on Marriage Equality in Illinois
March 05, 2014
As we approach the date of June 1 when marriage equality will become legal throughout the State of Illinois, and in light of Cook County's recent decision to allow same sex marriage to be entered legally in advance of that date, I write to offer some clarification on the role of clergy in this Diocese in officiating at the blessing of these unions.
As I wrote to you last November, clergy in the Diocese of Chicago are authorized to officiate at all legally contracted marriages. For purposes of the State of Illinois, clergy are authorized to witness and sign marriage licenses. For opposite sex couples, the marriage rite in The Book of Common Prayer is normally used for the blessing of the union. In the case of same sex couples, the rite authorized for provisional use by the General Convention, "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," is used. This rite provides that the bishop may authorize an adaptation of the Pronouncement to comply with requirements of the civil jurisdiction. Under these provisions therefore, I authorize the following for the Pronouncement:
Inasmuch as N. and N. have exchanged vows of love and fidelity
in the presence of God and the Church,
I now pronounce that they are married and bound together in a holy covenant,
as long as they both shall live. Amen.
I believe that marriage is a sacred vocation. The union of two persons in heart, body and mind is a school of holiness, a way of ordering our lives so that we might learn to be more faithful servants of Christ. I believe that the faithful, loving, and lifelong union of two persons--of the same sex or of opposite sexes--is capable of signifying the never failing love of God in Christ for the church and the world. Such unions can be sources and signs of grace, both for the couple and for the wider community. We need all of the sources and signs of grace we can get.
Thank you for your careful ministry in assisting all members of this church who are called to lifelong, covenanted relationships to celebrate their unions in holiness, fidelity and love.
Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee