Washington National Cathedral, the seat of the Episcopal Church
and one of the world's largest cathedrals, has decided to start
hosting same-sex weddings.
The announcement, expected this morning, is unsurprising for a denomination and a diocese that long ago took up the cause of marriage equality.
But the cathedral's stature and the image of same-sex couples exchanging vows in the soaring Gothic structure visited by a half- million tourists each year is symbolically powerful.
Even though it is known that the Episcopal Church, a small but prominent part of American Christianity, has been supportive of equality for gay men and lesbians, "it's something for us to say we are going to do this in this very visible space where we pray for the president and where we bury leaders," said the Rev. Gary Hall, who became dean of the Washington National Cathedral in the fall.
As attention, political capital and lobbying dollars have been focused on fights over civil marriage, organized religion has been slow to embrace rights for same-sex couples.
The Episcopal Church, with 2 million members, has been something of an exception, with leadership supporting the ordination of gay clergy and blessings for same-sex couples even as dozens of parishes broke with the denomination over the issue.
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