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Voices of Faith
The Washington National Cathedral, where the nation gathers to mourn tragedies and celebrate new presidents, will soon begin hosting same-sex marriages.
Cathedral officials tell The Associated Press the church will be among the first Episcopal congregations to implement a new rite of marriage for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members. The church will announce its new policy Wednesday.
As the nation's most prominent church, the decision carries huge symbolism. The 106-year-old cathedral has long been a spiritual center for the nation, hosting presidential inaugural services and funerals for Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his last sermon there in 1968. The cathedral draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.....
The Very Rev. Gary Hall, the cathedral's dean, said performing same-sex marriages is an opportunity to break down barriers and build a more inclusive community "that reflects the diversity of God's world."
"I read the Bible as seriously as fundamentalists do," Hall told the AP. "And my reading of the Bible leads me to want to do this because I think it's being faithful to the kind of community that Jesus would have us be."
Gay weddings will be allowed immediately. But It will likely be six months to a year before the first marriages are performed due to the cathedral's busy schedule and its pre-marital counseling requirement. Generally, only couples affiliated with the cathedral will be eligible. Church leaders had not received any requests for weddings ahead of Wednesday's announcement. ....
Hall, the cathedral dean, said the church has a long history of taking stands on public issues. But he said he sees marriage as a human issue, not a political issue.
"For us to be able to say we embrace same-sex marriage as a tool for faithful people to live their lives as Christian people," he said, "for us to be able to say that at a moment when so many other barriers toward full equality and full inclusion for gay and lesbian people are falling, I think it is an important symbolic moment."