Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Episcopalians reject ban on gay bishops

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer 18 minutes ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Episcopal clergy and lay delegates Tuesday rejected a demand from fellow Anglicans that they temporarily stop electing gay bishops, leaving little chance the proposal could be revived at a national church meeting.

Anglican leaders, angered by the 2003 consecration of an openly gay Episcopal bishop, had asked the Episcopalians pass a moratorium — at least for now — on homosexuals leading dioceses.

But in a complex balloting system, a majority of the Episcopal House of Deputies voted against a measure that would have urged dioceses to refrain from electing homosexuals to lead them. Conservatives complained that the measure stopped short of a moratorium, but supporters argued it would have set a moral standard for the church and would have signaled that the American denomination understood the concerns of Anglican leaders.
Northern Indiana Bishop Edward Little, who was on the committee that drafted the measure, said prior to the vote that if deputies did not approve the legislation it would be almost impossible to resurrect. "That would be the end," he said.

Deputies continued debate Tuesday, and some delegates sought to reopen consideration of the proposal, but the attempt failed to win enough support.
The critical discussion in the Episcopal Church came on a day when another American Protestant denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), coincidentally planned to decide on whether to allow leeway on the ordination of gay clergy and lay elders and deacons.

Mainline Protestant groups, including the Methodists and the largest U.S. Lutheran branch, have been struggling for decades over the traditional Christian prohibition on gay sex as lesbians and gays push for full inclusion in their churches. The issue has frequently dominated debate at national Protestant assemblies.

The Episcopal General Convention ends Wednesday, and the House of Bishops could still try to take up the ban on gay bishops. But such a measure would need the approval of the very same deputies who have now rejected it.

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