New York bishops commend Obama on marriage equality

[Episcopal Diocese of New York] Diocese of New York Bishops Mark Sisk, Andrew Dietsche and Andrew Smith have each written letters transmitted electronically to the people of the diocese commending President Obama’s recent expression of support for marriage equality.

The texts of the letters follow.

From Bishop Sisk
Dear People of the Diocese of New York,

I welcome President Obama’s expression of support for marriage equality for gay and lesbian people. Given that equality before the law is a fundamental principle of our republic, it seems to me that our President has reached an eminently appropriate conclusion.

In earlier statements I have made known my support of marriage for gay and lesbian people. I am convinced that this support is entirely in keeping with the familiar call to respect the dignity of every human being. It is, moreover, in accord with our Lord’s promise that we are all, fully and equally, beloved children of God.

Faithfully yours,
The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk
XV Bishop of New York

From Bishop Dietsche
Brothers and Sisters,

I heartily join Bishop Sisk in commending President Obama for his public statement supporting the legality of marriage for gay and lesbian couples. There is a clear and growing majority in America which believes that marriage equality is fair and just, and that it is a moral imperative for a country founded on principles of the equality of all people. We in New York can justly take pride that our state has been a pioneer in providing this equality under the law, and in the Diocese of New York we rejoice with all those who have found, in these new freedoms, the public validation of loving relationships that in many cases represent decades of shared joys and sacrifices.

At our General Convention this summer our own church will consider new liturgies for the blessing of same sex relationships. Happily, in New York, such blessings have long been part of our common life. We pray for the Episcopal Church as it gathers in Convention that it will hear the courageous declaration of our president, the convictions of our own bishop, and the witness of those who have already found comfort, joy and solace in our marriage equality laws, as we work together toward true equality for all people in a church which follows our Lord Jesus. It was he who taught us that in every person we may find the face of our God, and that in every marriage we may hope to see “a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful and broken world.”

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche
Bishop Coadjutor of New York

From Bishop Smith
Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I, too, heartily endorse the initiative and action of President Obama in affirming the appropriateness of marriage between persons of the same sex, and I wish to “second” the reasoning so clearly enunciated by Bishop Sisk and Bishop Dietsche.

The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith
Assistant Bishop, Diocese of New York


  1. Timothy Dwyer says:

    From his statement, your readers would likely be under the mistaken impression that Bishop Sisk is permitting same-sex couples to marry in the Diocese of New York. That is not the case.

    The Bishop of Long Island has chosen to extend the Sacrament of Marriage to all his flock. It is surprising and disappointing to many of his LGBT flock that Bishop Sisk, despite the General Convention’s 2009 Resolution (” dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church” ), steadfastly refuses to extend the sacrament of marriage to us. We are instead expected to acquire a civil license, then come to Church for a blessing. This has the distinct feel of the “back of the bus” for many.

    By issuing statements such as the one above, the Bishop is trying to appear to be a champion of the LGBT community while treating us as second-class Episcopalians. I wish that Bishop Sisk’s actions met the lofty aspirations of his words.

    Timothy Dwyer
    New York, NY

    • Nathaniel Queen says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with Tim Dywer’s assessment of what the reality is in the Diocese of New York under Bishop Sisk. I thought that once the NY State Legislature had approved gay marriage and it was therefore legal in the State of New York, that the Diocese would interpret that is was legal to marry gay couples in church. The church in concert with the law could ‘regularize’ same sex unions. Sadly this is not the case here and it needs to be addressed so that all Episcopalians can receive the sacraments of the church. Blessings is akin to saying that I can have lunch, but can’t be seated. Get my drift?!

    • John Jewell says:

      I am really astonished that the Bishop of would write a statement like that when he doesn’t even let gays get married in his church. That statement is very misleading. Where has Dignity and the gay clergy of the diocese been?

  2. Tod Roulette says:

    As a member of historic St. Philip’s in Harlem, a congregation known for its over 200 years of worship and community service has been at the forefront of justice I was surprised to learn that Bishop Sisk does not allow same sex blessings in this diocese. Given the fact that in 2004 my late partner and myself were allowed to have a blessing under his umbrella of ‘generous pastoral response’.

    My new partner and I and many are awaiting the unequivocal affirmation of Bishop Dietsche once he is installed as Bishop of New York. Faith and love in action is called for in this matter and modeled in the diocese.

    Tod Roulette
    New York, NY

    • Timothy Dwyer says:

      Tod –

      To clarify, he does allow blessings of unions, but he does not allow same-sex couples to be wed in the Church. The Bishop of Long Island does.

      • Andrea Bund says:

        Oh please. He also blesses bicycles, poodles, and parrots at his Cathedral. We’ll pass on the separate-but-unequal and wait for the real deal.

        Andrea Bund
        Rye, NY

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