The Washington National Cathedral will begin celebrating same-sex marriages effective immediately, the cathedral announced Wednesday.
“The Episcopal Church has shown faithfulness and courage in the long discernment process that led to the development and approval of this rite. The Diocese of Washington has similarly been a leader in the implementation of marriage equality," Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, said in a prepared statement.
"I am proud that Washington National Cathedral will be among the first Episcopal institutions to adopt and implement a rite that will enable our faithful LGBT members to share in the sacramental blessings of Christian marriage.”
The Episcopal Church approved a new rite adapted from an existing blessing ceremony in August 2012, clearing the way for the bishop of each diocese to decide whether to allow the rite, according to a press release.
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington decided in December 2012 to allow this expansion of the sacrament of marriage, according to a press release from the cathedral.
The Episcopal Diocese of Washington includes D.C. and four counties in Maryland. Same-sex marriage is legal in both the District and Maryland.
“Washington National Cathedral has a long history of advancing equality for people of all faiths and perspectives,” Hall said in the press release. “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.”
According to the cathedral press release, all weddings celebrated at the Washington National Cathedral are Christian, meaning at least one of the couple must have been baptized.
Additionally, the cathedral is open for weddings only to "couples directly affiliated with the life of the Cathedral." According to the press release, that includes:
- active, contributing members of the congregation;
- alumni or alumnae of the Cathedral schools;
- individuals who have made significant volunteer or donor contributions over a period of time;
- or those judged by the dean to have played an exceptional role in the life of the nation.
Learn more about the Washington National Cathedral here.