According to a report by The New York Times from July 10, The Episcopal Church approved an official liturgy for blessing same-sex unions. This enables priests who have the approval of their bishops to bestow the church's blessing on gay couples regardless of the legal status of gay marriage in that state.
The adoption of an official rite solidifies the Episcopal Church's changed attitude toward sexual minorities. One day earlier the church voted and approved a nondiscrimination policy that will allow transgendered people to be ordained to the priesthood.
When asked about the impact of the church's decision, the founding director of the Center For Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at Pacific School of Religion, in Berkeley, Calif., Mary A. Tolbert, said "This is significant because it's saying, 'This is around to stay Â— this is not a passing fad'"
Although it has been made abundantly clear that this is not a marriage rite, and The resolution explicitly allows bishops who do not approve of same-sex relationships to prohibit their priests from using the liturgy, it still feels like a great leap forward for civil rights.
If there has been one major proponent of LGBT exclusion in modern America it would undeniably be the new religious right, and more specifically the evangelical movement. Some pastors and politicians have infamously referred to homosexuality as a 'devious and sinful lifestyle choice' or have equated it to horrific acts like incest and bestiality. The decision by the Episcopal Church to allow integration of the LGBT community will be a huge step in the inevitable assimilation of sexual minorities. The most shrewd aspect, however, is that they have found a way to be inclusive without violating any state laws on gay marriage or violating anyone's freedom to disapprove or refuse to oversee a same-sex union.