The wedding bells will chime in the 106-year-old Washington National Cathedral as Rev. Gary Hall affirmed that, effective immediately, same-sex weddings may be celebrated at the Cathedral of the Episcopal Church located in the northwest quadrant of Washington D.C.
The National Cathedral has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors and held both celebrations and funerals for U.S. presidents past.
In August 2012, the church approved the ceremonial use of a rite adapted from an existing blessing ceremony to acknowledge same-sex marriage. The Episcopal Church will be among the first to recognize marriage for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples.
"For more than 30 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed and studied to discern the evidence of God's blessing in the lives of same-sex couples," Rev. Gary Hall of the National Cathedral said. "We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of God-and doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation."
The District of Columbia and Maryland (as well as eight other states) have adopted the legality of civil marriage for same-sex couples. The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, whose Episcopal Diocese of Washington includes D.C. as well as four counties in Maryland, decided this December to follow suit expanding the sacrament of marriage to same-sex couples in her diocese as well.
But the decision to institute the same-sex rite at the Washington National Cathedral was ultimately made by Hall who serves as the Cathedral's dean.
"In my 35 years of ordained ministry, some of the most personally inspiring work I have witnessed has been among gay and lesbian communities where I have served."
Hall continued, "I consider it a great honor to lead this Cathedral as it takes another historic step toward greater equality-and I am pleased that this step follows the results made clear in this past November's election, when three states voted to allow same-sex marriage."
The same-sex weddings that will be conducted at the Cathedral will fulfill the same role as Christian marriages. Eligibility to marry in the National Cathedral follows the protocol of the Christian faith.
At least one of the members in the couple must have been baptized and the couple must be active, contributing members of the congregation unless otherwise specified by the dean.