WASHINGTON, January 9 (RIA Novosti) – One of America’s most prominent churches, the Washington National Cathedral, which holds funerals and celebrations for US presidents and prominent leaders, announced on Wednesday that same-sex weddings will be performed within the Episcopal institution.
“We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of God—and doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation,” said Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, in a statement released by the church.
The 106-year-old church has hosted presidential inaugural services, as well as memorial ceremonies for US presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.
Hall said the decision to allow same-sex marriage in the “most visible faith community within the Episcopal Church,” was due to the legalization of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Washington, where the cathedral is located, and the nearby state of Maryland.
The cathedral, which welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, can be seen as having a “long history of advancing equality for people of all faiths and perspectives,” Hall said, adding that he hopes that this decision will influence US citizens to be more accepting of same-sex marriage.
“As a kind of tall-steeple, public church in the nation’s capital, by saying we’re going to bless same-sex marriages, conduct same-sex marriages, we are really trying to take the next step for marriage equality in the nation and in the culture,” Hall said, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The National Cathedral is among one of the first US Episcopal institutions to offer same-sex marriage ceremonies that will enable the church’s lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender members “to share in the sacramental blessings of Christian marriage,” Hall stated.
To be eligible for marriage at least one person in the couple must have been baptized and be active within the church or “have played an exceptional role in the life of the nation,” the cathedral stated in a press release.
“It is my hope and prayer that, if all of us open ourselves to the fullness and diversity of our nation’s many voices, we will learn to walk together in a new way as we listen for God’s call to us to be faithful to each other and to God,” Hall said.
It could take as long as six months to one year before same-sex marriages, which are now legal in nine states and Washington, are performed in the cathedral, the AP reported.
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