Monday, June 8, 2009

Bishop Robinson: No Clergy Permission to Perform Same-Sex Weddings

Contrary to a published report, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, has not given permission for diocesan clergy to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed legislation June 4 that made the state the sixth to legalize same-sex marriage.

The website of the North Andover, Mass., Eagle-Tribune newspaper had quoted the Rev. Carolyn Stevenson, rector of St. David’s Church in Salem, N.H., as saying that Bishop Robinson had changed his policy with the new law, giving pastors “the option of performing a religious blessing or a regular marriage ceremony” and that she would choose to marry the couples.

“She totally misrepresented [Bishop Robinson’s] position and the Bishop has spoken with her about this,” said Paula A. Biber, executive assistant to Bishop Robinson. Ms. Biber is the diocese’s contact person for information about permission to officiate at weddings in Episcopal churches in the state.

In statement published on the Diocese of New Hampshire website Bishop Robinson explained that the current policy is that “any civil union is to be presided over by a secular magistrate of the State and not, by our clergy. When pastorally appropriate and only if the clergyperson is so inclined, may the church’s blessing of that union be offered.”

Civil marriage of same-gender couples does not become law until Jan. 1, 2010.

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