News for Week Ending 2/9/2015
Same-sex marriage comes to Alabama accompanied by dramaOn February 9, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a request by the state of Alabama to stay an earlier federal court ruling striking down bans on same-sex marriage in the state, a move widely seen as suggesting that the court will soon make same-sex marriage legal throughout the country. Marriage licenses began to be issued to same-sex couples the same day. The situation was complicated by Alabama’s Chief Justice, Roy Moore, who has ordered probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moore has a history of defying federal rulings. Episcopal Café links to various stories about the Alabama situation. Additional stories can be found on the Web sites of The Washington Post and Politico.
Blue Book available (sort of)The bible containing all the information and reports needed by deputies to this summer’s General Convention in Salt Lake City, the so-called “Blue Book,” is now available. Well, it is sort of available. The church has decided that it will not print copies of the Blue Book and will distribute it only in electronic form, making it available piecemeal as material becomes available. The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs explained this new procedure February 5, 2015. The developing Blue Book can be found here.
Task Force on the Study of Marriage issues reportOne of the reports that has recently become available and is available as part of the Blue Book (see story above) is the final report of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage. That group is proposing two resolutions, one to revise the marriage canon and one to extend the work of the task force.There is no attempt to revise the prayer book marriage rite.
Communication commission wants to go out of businessAnother report in the Blue Book (see story above) is that of the Standing Commission on Communication and Information Technology. The commission proposes a single resolution that would do away with the commission or direct another church body to continue its work. (One might have expected that “or” to be “and,” but that is how the resolution is phrased.) The commission argues that any recommendations it might have take too long to implement through General Convention given that the communications/IT world changes so fast.
South Carolina judge rules against S.C. EpiscopaliansTo hardly anyone’s surprise, Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the church property dispute brought by the breakaway group led by former Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence against Episcopalians choosing to remain in The Episcopal Church. The judge issued her ruling more than half a year after the trial. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina issued this press release in response to the February 4, 2015, ruling. Bishop Charles vonRosenburg wrote to his flock the same day emphasizing that the definitive legal determination will be at a higher level. There will be an appeal. The Mark Lawrence faction also issued a press release, of course, and Mark Lawrence wrote a pastoral letter. Judge Goodstein’s ruling can be found here. The Post and Courier covered the story and reviewed the state of church property litigation involving The Episcopal Church February 7.
Bishop Cook charged with 13 countsEpiscopal News Service reported that Maryland’s suffragan bishop Heather Cook was charged with 13 counts by a grand jury February 4, 2015, related to her December 27 fatal automobile accident. She has been advised to resign and is undergoing disciplinary proceedings in The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, has written to deputies discussing the Cook situation and steps she is taking to avoid such problems in the future. Her letter can be found here.