Bishop Dietsche, currently in Salt Lake City for the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, where consideration of same-gender marriage is high on the agenda, this evening sent a letter to the people of the diocese celebrating the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality that was announced earlier today. The full text of the letter follow, and can also be read as sent by clicking here.
My dear brothers and sisters,Marriage equality has come to all Americans! Today the United States Supreme Court declared that the denial of the right to marry for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. This is a day which will live always in the annals of American civil rights. I know that I speak for the whole Diocese of New York, which has offered the sacrament of marriage to same sex couples for three years, in giving thanks that those principles which we have discovered to be true and godly and compassionate, which promote freedom and support equal rights and opportunity for all people, are now enshrined by our highest court to be the law for all Americans in every place.
But more than the change in law itself, we give thanks for the movement of the Holy Spirit within the church and the world which has led to the broadening and deepening of our common understanding of marriage and sacrament and covenant, and which I believe has made us a more generous and gracious people. In both the state of New York and the Diocese of New York, we have embraced and offered full marriage equality since 2012. The rite of Holy Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer asks God to “grant that all married persons who have witnessed these vows may find their lives strengthened and their loyalties confirmed.” Over these years our church has witnessed the vows of marriage spoken by people who had earlier been refused that right, and our learnings from one another about promises made and promises kept, and the theological and spiritual power of covenant honored over many years, and the graces and blessings we have seen in long-time loves made new, have indeed strengthened our lives as Christians and confirmed our loyalties as a people.
I have presided at marriages of men to men, and women to women, a number of times in these last years. And I have been struck by the power and poignancy of seeing people who have been living shared lives for many years, or even decades, now stand before one another and through tears bind themselves anew by sacred vow and lifelong covenant. I give thanks for the actions of the United States Supreme Court today, and I celebrate the freedoms now spreading across America, and I honor the transformation of law that will bring transformation also to culture and practice. But let us never forget that this decision is also profoundly personal for millions of Americans. This morning a man at General Convention greeted me with the words, “I am legal everywhere now.” To those of you who have waited long to see this day, who maybe feared you never would, who will celebrate this day with your beloved and give thanks together, and who have discovered new graces in this freedom and new blessings in this equality — to you I offer my own joy, my personal congratulations, my very best wishes, and the happy greetings of your church and diocese. When anyone is liberated we are all made more free, when anyone is blessed we are all raised together. Praise God.
The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche
Bishop of New York