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Published July 09 2012

Episcopal bishops approve prayer service for same-sex couples

Episcopal bishops approved an official prayer service for blessing same-sex couples Monday at a national convention that also cleared the way for transgender ordination.

At the Episcopal General Convention in Indianapolis, the House of Bishops voted 111-41, with three abstentions, to authorize a provisional rite for same-sex unions for the next three years. The liturgy next goes to convention's deputies for their authorization.

In a separate vote Monday, the full convention approved new anti-discrimination language for transgendered clergy candidates and church members. Some dioceses already ordain transgendered people or elect them to positions of parish leadership. However, advocates for the amendment argued they needed an explicit statement of acceptance as the churchwide policy.

The Rev. Carla Robinson, who is transgendered and a vicar of All Saints Church in Seattle, said she was lucky to have the backing of parishes and bishops when she was considering ordination, but she said others haven't had the same support.

“I stand here as a priest today because my diocese specifically said that my gender identity and expression didn't disqualify me from the discernment process,” Robinson said from the floor of the convention. “I ask that as a church we do the same for my trans sisters and brothers.”