Explanation continues on the first Episcopal bishop to wed a same-sex partner

Posted: Friday, May 21, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Bishop William Swing of the Episcopal Church's Diocese of California says he suspended Bishop Otis Charles from clergy functions because he broke Swing's directive when he spoke publicly about entering a same-sex marriage.

''I said, don't use the word marriage, and don't talk to the press,'' Swing recalled Monday. He suspended Charles when the San Francisco Chronicle published Charles' account of the April wedding to Felipe Sanchez Paris.

Charles is the first Episcopal bishop known to marry a same-sex partner. Charles, 78, is divorced from his wife of 42 years; Paris, 62, was previously married four times. Three of the men's nine children participated in the wedding.

Previously, Charles was the first Episcopal bishop to announce gay identity, following his retirement as president of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. Last year, New Hampshire's V. Gene Robinson became the first Episcopal bishop to be elected while living openly with a same-sex partner, an action that has divided Episcopalians.

Charles had said his marriage ''was done with the bishop's knowledge and done according to his protocols.'' Swing confirmed that he knew about the planned ceremony and was shown the liturgy, but thought it would be a private blessing, not a wedding.

Swing said he has long allowed church blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples but believes terms like wedding and marriage cannot be used while the Episcopal Church is still undecided on those questions.

Swing plans no disciplinary action against priests who led Charles' wedding. He stated previously that Charles remains a ''bishop in good standing,'' associated with the Utah Diocese where he was formerly the bishop, and a full communicant in the San Francisco parish where he was married.

http://www.diocal.org



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