Episcopal Bishops Approve Same-Sex Prayer Service and Anti-Discrimination Language

Episcopalians continue to out-progressive many other religious groups with two LGBT-friendly votes at the Episcopal General Convention in Indianapolis.

The first vote, which passed 111-41, was for an official prayer service for same-sex unions. This is a provisional rite for the next three years, and it still has to be approved by the convention's deputies, but it does represent a significant step forward.

Bishops against the trial liturgy were worried it would send a message that the Episcopal Church as a whole is in favor of same-sex marriage. Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde countered that it was important to honor same-sex couples who have devoted their lives to Christ.

The second vote was for new anti-discrimination language for transgendered members of the church and clergy. Although some dioceses do ordain transgendered people, this was an "explicit statement of acceptance as churchwide policy."

Reverend Carla Robinson, a vicar of All Saints Church in Seattle, spoke in favor of the amendment.

I stand here as a priest today because my diocese specifically said that my gender identity and expression didn't disqualify me from the discernment process. I ask that as a church we do the same for my trans sisters and brothers.

The new language was approved by the full convention.

The Episcopal Church has a history of LGBT inclusion: in 2003, they consecrated Gene Robinson as the first openly gay Anglican bishop.

[Image via AP]