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As Supreme Court Debates, Georgetown Churches Embrace Same-Sex Marriage

The Washington National Cathedral's Dean Gary Hall and his wife Kathy attended a pro-marriage rally at the Supreme Court Tuesday.

Several Georgetown-area churches are standing in support of the right of same-sex couples to marry, as the Supreme Court considers landmark same-sex marriage decisions this week. The Court is hearing oral arguments on both California's Proposition 8 and the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in states that have legalized same-sex marriage.

Washington National Cathedral Dean Gary Hall and his wife of 35 years, Kathy, joined a rally of pro-gay marriage supporters at the Supreme Court Tuesday. In January, Hall announced that the Washington National Cathedral would begin performing same-sex marriage ceremonies.

"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 Hall in a press release from the cathedral in January.

Other local church leaders are also weighing in on the Supreme Court's actions this week.

"David Brooks wrote that same-gender couples ought to have access to a powerful institution which, when it works, 'makes us better people than we deserve to be'. I hope the Supreme Court allows civil authorities to offer this access, as the various levels of government debate whether to do so and, in many cases, decide in the affirmative," said Rev. John M. Graham of Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown.

In 1987, Dumbarton United Methodist Church began welcoming gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals. When DC legalized gay marriage in 2009, it was the first United Methodist congregation in DC to agree to perform such weddings.

Dumbarton's Rev. Mary Kay Totty told Patch that as a person of faith she prays that the Supreme Court will rule for "justice and equality."

"We pray that the law of our land will honor the committed loving relationships of all couples. We believe that God celebrates the lives and loves of all God’s LGBT children. The thing about love is that it is unquenchable. Whatever the Supreme Court decides this season, love will continue to grow and blossom and increase," she wrote in a recent blog post.

Other Georgetown churches, mostly of the Episcopal denomination, have decided in recent years to begin performing same-sex marriages.

In March 2010, Georgetown Parish, "enthusiastically supported Saint John's as a venue for same-gender marriages."

"In my view, it's a big step forward for both religious communities and civil authorities to offer same-gender couples the opportunity to bind themselves one to the other by sacred vows, as opposite-gender couples have done for thousands of years," Grace Church's Graham told Patch.

Grace Church officially decided in December that Rev. Graham could solemnize same-sex marriages at Grace Church in his capacity as Rector of Grace Church and at his discretion. The decision came after more than a year of discussions with the church community about whether or not the services should be offered.

"Not all members of Grace agree with our Vestry's decision to authorize me to perform same-gender marriage, and all of us at Grace strive to honor perspectives that differ from our own," Graham told Patch.

"Some of those with reservations, though, have told me they've come to know same-gender couples and to honor the integrity of these relationships. This kind of experience seems to be growing more and more common," said Graham.

While there are several area churches marrying same-sex couples, many churches within Georgetown do not mention same-sex marriage on their websites and/or their official church doctrines prohibit religious marriage of same-sex couples. The Supreme Court may weigh in on the civil aspects of same-sex marriage this week, but religious institutions will continue to follow their own authorities on the matter.

Has your church weighed in on same-sex marriage? What do you think the Supreme Court will say on the matters before it?

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