The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church and other faith communities, as well as the larger society in which we find ourselves, are presently engaged in conversation and debates about issues of human sexuality, and more particularly homosexuality and the recognition of committed relationships between members of the same sex. The Episcopal Church is on record as being committed to continuing discussion and discernment around these questions, about which we do not have a common mind, and to equal protection under the law and full civil rights for homosexual persons.
I am concerned about the advisability of a constitutional amendment being put forth for discussion at this time. Questions of sexuality are far from settled, and a constitutional amendment which was perceived as settling this matter might make it more difficult to engage in civil discourse around this topic.
Further, sexuality is personal, and therefore engages us at an emotional level where the language used can inflame rather than inform. For example, some who do support the legal and civil rights of same-sex couples are disturbed at the use of the term marriage to describe such unions, believing that this term should be used only in reference to the commitment between a man and a woman. Others believe that a term less than marriage is a diminishment of such relationships.
As I support the honoring of differing perspectives within the Episcopal Church, equally it is my strong hope that our national discourse during this political season will promote thoughtful and respectful conversation. The fullness of truth seldom resides in one point of view and therefore we need to hold ourselves open to the possibility that our own perspectives will be enlarged by those of others with whom we may disagree. It is my prayer that we find the way forward that respects the best of our civil and religious traditions.
During these debates, both within the church and civil society, I would urge us to remember that we are conversing about an issue that affects the lives of honorable men and women who should be recognized in the dignity of their personhood and not simply discussed as abstractions.
The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Prelate
The Episcopal Church, USA
February 27, 2004