Joint statement from Michigan bishops on marriage equality ruling

[Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan press release] As Christians and leaders in the Episcopal Church, we applaud Judge [Bernard A.] Friedman’s decision to overturn Michigan’s ban on equal marriage as a step on the right side of history.

As the case of DeBoer v. Snyder continues to work its way through our judicial system, it is our hope that future judges will continue to find that the denial of marriage to same-sex couples is a denial of human dignity and a denial of rights under the law.  We look forward in hopeful anticipation to the day when we can recognize all faithful and covenantal relationships between any two people regardless of sex, both within the Church and within our society.

Thanks be to God,

The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan

The Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr.
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan

The Rt. Rev. Rayford Ray
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan

The Rt. Rev. Whayne M. Hougland, Jr.
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan


  1. Joseph F Foster says:

    They’ve derogated their own human dignity by their behavior. The appellate court did right to stay the decision’s application.

  2. Helen Bell says:

    We voted against the gay marriage ban when it was on the ballot. We celebrate the court’s decision and pray that ultimately it will be upheld on appeal. Adults should be able to marry and have their commitment to one another recognized by society, whatever the gender mix of the couple.

  3. Joyce Ann Edmondson says:

    Has the Episcopal church defined what marriage is? Is it different in any way from the biblical definition? Can you explain this redefinition in a way that conservatives can understand and accept it? If states and governments were not involved, would it matter?

  4. Thank You, Dear Bishops, for your courage, integrity and inspiration. Times change, and with them understanding and insight increase, minds open, hearts expand. The Jesus of our times would say, Yes!

  5. Alda Morgan says:

    In regard to Ms. Edmondson’s question, I’d guess that the institution of marriage could not be redefined in a way that would convince many conservatives. As long as the issue is sex between two members of the same gender, they tend to see that behavior as inherently wrong and sinful. But marriage itself is another matter. Our understanding of marriage has changed in my lifetime from an institution that legitimates the sexual relationship between a man and woman and their children; one that is patriarchal, one where, ideally, the husband is seen as the breadwinner and head and the wife as full time housekeeper and mother. I would venture the suggestion that we think of marriage these days as a covenant between a man and woman for mutual loyalty, care, companionship, and pleasure. And if they want children, so much the better, but no one pities them or looks upon their marriage as somehow crippled or less than it should be if they are childless. We may feel sad for those couples who want biological children and can’t have them, but it doesn’t change the status of their marriage. Many women now not only work, but are assumed to have the right to pursue rewarding work to which they are as devoted as their male colleagues. Many fathers share much of the domestic routine and, indeed, the tasks and pleasures of parenthood. And in fact, a look at history shows that marriage as an institution has been redefined many times, even within the covers of the Bible. In the Old Testament, the patriarchs took more than one wife and had concubines. By Jesus’ time, Jewish men married one wife at a time. How a society thinks about marriage has shifted many times since. The attitudes toward homosexuality has also shifted. James I, the one who gave us the King James Bible, was a homosexual and it was well known that he had male favorites whom he took to bed. Perhaps it was not condoned officially, but it certainly wasn’t condemned as it is today by some and it was accepted. And if governments weren’t involved, the whole matter would be simpler, but the Church would still care about which couples it blessed and that is what it does in a church marriage. Even thought this society has combined the civil and sacred features of marriage and given clergy a license to marry, it does not–in the eyes of God and church tradition–MARRY the couple: the couple marry themselves; the Church blesses that union. For church folk, that’s what we’re fighting about: should the Church bless homosexual unions and covenants? So, marriage as an institution has indeed changed over and over, but whether many conservatives can see gay marriage as a legitimate change is something only they can determine.

  6. Joseph Flanagan says:

    Thank you Alda. I wish we in the states could recognize the difference between a civil contract between 2 individuals ( for civil concerns of mutual responsibility in financial, inheritance, tax issues) and a sacramental relationship. When we need a civil license to proceed with a marriage, and a civil decree from a court to dissolve that legal relationship, and then we confuse that civil contract – making by allowing clergy to act in both a civil role and a religious role to effect that civil (and religious ) reality of commitment, we open ourselves to mass confusion. I just wish we separated the legal commitment from the religious commitment. let each religious tradition set their own requirements for their specific religious recognition, but let the civil commitment remain the domain of the civil authorities

  7. I applaud the bishops for standing for equality. I am not at all threatened by equal rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters. I am also an advocate for offering the church’s blessing to their committed relationships. But what bothers me here is that, as a theologian, I believe theological nuance is necessary. As others have questioned before me, has the church redefined “marriage”? As I study history I am convinced that we can learn a great deal from the past. In many cultures, same-sex relationships have not only been tolerated, but understood an inevitable and even good. But in those same cultures it was not necessary to redefine marriage. Same-sex relations were understood as a different type of good from marriage. This, I believe, is the wisdom to be offered to us from the past. Realizing this just might prevent further division in the church.

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