Minute on Same Gender Marriages (10/2009)

From the minutes of the meeting for worship with a concern for business, 10/4/2009:

Gender and Sexual Diversity Consideration

The Ad Hoc Committee on Gender and Sexual Diversity Concerns of Baltimore Yearly Meeting asked monthly meetings to consider the following query and to send responses to Stuart Greene at luckystu222@gmail.com.

    “Historically Friends held a called meeting for worship to celebrate the religious commitment and spiritual union of two of their members.  There was no legal or civil component to these earliest marriages, because the state did not sanction marriage between two Friends in a Quaker meeting house.  Today many of our Friends are in a similar position.  No legal jurisdiction within the boundaries of our yearly meeting will sanction marriage between two Friends of the same gender.

Is it time to encourage a return to this earlier practice of separation of church and state?  In accordance with our testimony to equality, should we offer the same marriage under the care of meeting – no more and no less – to all couples, while encouraging couples who are legally able, to have a separate civil ceremony?”

Friends reviewed the proposed minute of the Ad Hoc Committee.   After discussion, we decided to reaffirm the minute we approved in April, 2000.  Below is the text of this minute.

Minute on Same Gender Marriage (April 30, 2000)

    Ministry and Oversight presented its proposed minute on Same Sex Marriages. Discussion followed, including a distinction made between spiritual and civil marriages, with the note being made that a same-gender couple does not have the opportunity to have a civil union. Changes were made to it pursuant to the discussion, the final version reading as follows:
“Friends at Patapsco Preparative Meeting have given the issue of marriage and committed unions prayerful consideration. A guiding principle of our meeting is to nurture spiritually grounded and committed relationships of all kinds, whether between individuals and the meeting community, within families, or between two people in a committed relationship. Consistent with that broader principle, the meeting will consider, without regard to gender, requests from couples to take marriages under its loving care and to witness to such marriages in worship. Also consistent with that broader principle, the meeting will consider, without regard to gender, requests from couples to take committed unions under its loving care and to witness to such committed unions in worship. In addition, we wish to minute our support for adopting non-gender specific language throughout Faith and Practice.”

In addition to reaffirming the above minute, we approved the following minute:

    “Patapsco Friends Meeting will not participate in obtaining legal recognition of marriages taken under its care until such legal recognition is available to all without respect to the sexes of the couple.”


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