Dear General Convention,
I am a 75 year old confirmed Episcopalian of 53 years. I have been actively an actively involved member of Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration for over 30 years, and one of the ways I’m involved is by being a Stephen Minister.
I was in a loving, committed relationship with a male partner for 11 years until his untimely death at the age of 34 in 1991. We were not able to be married either civilly or in the Episcopal Church, of which we were members. This was a troubling matter to us, which we had no choice but “accept” at that time. By the time same-sex marriage became legally possible, my partner was deceased…too late for us, but an affirmation to me an society as a whole that men and women of the same sex were no longer denied equal rights to marry. I was equally elated when same-sex marriage became possible in many Christian church denominations and some Episcopal churches. It is cruel, heart breaking, and un-Christian to deny any of the church’s sacraments universally because of genuine love for another human being of the same sex.
While I will probably never again be fortunate enough to enter into another loving relationship warranting marriage, I am very pleased that is is now a possibility within the Episcopal Church. However, I am dismayed that solely because the bishop of the diocese wherein I reside has ruled that no same sex marriages will be permitted regardless of the fact that my rector, staff, and congregation are supportive of such marriages.
Should I desire to be married, I absolutely would not flee to another diocese (as is now necessary). I would want to be married in my own city and among my own family, friends, and congregants. I have felt nothing but love and acceptance at Transfiguration and it would break my heart not to be married there. Given no other option, I would simply no longer be an Episcopalian and opt to marry and live out my life in Dallas and in a church denomination where all of the church sacraments are available equally to myself and others.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that General Convention will show the strength and compassion to make accommodation for same sex marriage to be available at this time in all dioceses and within parishes which are open and accepting.
William F. (Bill) Ansley