United Methodist Congregation to celebrate same-sex weddings

Dumbarton UMC to continue standing for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the church

Washington, March 3, 2010 /LGBT News - Dumbarton UMC/ A United Methodist congregation in Washington, D.C. has vowed to celebrate same-sex weddings, putting itself at odds with other Christian churches protesting the District of Columbia's new marriage equality law.

The pastor and 12 other ordained clergy who attend Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Georgetown said they would conduct such ceremonies after Congress failed to override D.C.'s new law on March 3. The larger United Methodist Church does not permit same-sex weddings, and no other Methodist congregation in Washington has taken the same step.

"As a pastor, I am called to extend care and grace to all people even as Jesus did," said Rev. Mary Kay Totty, pastor at the 238-year-old church. "We celebrate love and loyalty wherever it is found."

Dumbarton church's stand is poles apart from the protests by other Christian churches that same-sex marriages are against biblical teachings. Catholic Charities has announced that it will close its adoption and foster care programs in the District, rather than provide services to gay and lesbian couples. Some Christian ministers have rallied against the marriage equality law.

But Dumbarton's Church Council, in a 28 to 0 vote February 10, pledged "to honor and celebrate the wedding of any couple, licensed in the District of Columbia, who seek to commit their lives to one another in marriage."

Totty said the church is aware the clergy are at risk by performing same-sex weddings in a denomination that does not sanction them. "However," she said, "marriage equality is about justice and civil rights. The District of Columbia acknowledges that it is wrong to discriminate against people based upon sexual orientation."

Recognizing such marriages is a logical step for the District's oldest Methodist congregation, she said. In 1987 Dumbarton publicly welcomed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families into full participation in the life and ministries of the congregation. With the new policy, couples wanting to be married will meet with the pastor to discuss the church's marriage guidelines and to discuss counseling. "We rejoice that at this point in history, the arc of justice now bends toward equal recognition of marriage for all couples," said Totty.



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