Episcopal leader opposes ban on gay marriage in U.S. Constitution

Posted: Friday, March 12, 2004

LONDON (AP) The leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church said he opposed any proposals to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said in a broadcast interview last Sunday that such a change would be ''unwise at this point.''

''The debate both within churches and certainly within civil society needs to continue,'' Griswold told British Broadcasting Corp.'s ''Breakfast With Frost'' TV program. ''I'm fearful that a constitutional amendment at this time would preclude the continuation of that debate.''

President Bush urged swift action on an amendment, after the top court in Massachusetts granted gay couples the right to marry in that state.

The Episcopal Church, which is the U.S. branch of the global Anglican Communion, is in the midst of its own divisive debate over homosexuality.

The Episcopal General Convention last summer voted to confirm V. Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in the denomination's history. Robinson was installed last Sunday as leader of the Diocese of New Hampshire.

The same General Convention voted to acknowledge that some dioceses were holding blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.

In response, Episcopal conservatives have formed their own network that is separating itself from the denomination's leaders.

The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes held a planning meeting earlier this month in Pittsburgh, forming a missionary society to provide fellowship for Episcopalians who have left the 2.3 million-member denomination.

Seven dioceses have ratified their association with the network, according to local dioceses and the American Anglican Council, a Washington group that represents traditionalists.

Those dioceses are: Central Florida; Fort Worth, Texas; Pittsburgh; Rio Grande, N.M.; San Joaquin, Calif.; Springfield, Ill.; and South Carolina, which voted to participate in the network last Friday.


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