For two decades, Quakers in the UK — I’m not sure about the US, since individual Quaker congregations can set their own rules — have held religious blessings for same-sex couples. Now they’re poised to both begin performing actual marriage ceremonies and to petition the UK government to allow same-sex marriage, as opposed to the civil unions currently allowed.
The BBC’s religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the Quakers had been more prepared than other groups to reinterpret the Bible in the light of contemporary life.
The Quakers – also known as The Religious Society of Friends – are likely to reach consensus on the issue of gay marriage without a vote at their annual gathering in York on Friday.
They will also formally ask the government to change the law to allow gay people to marry.
Quaker registrars, like rabbis and Church of England priests, have the authority to marry heterosexual couples on behalf of the state.
But many British Quakers feel it is wrong to exclude a religious commitment from civil partnerships and want the right to marriage extended to same-sex couples too.
This wonderfully forward move on the part of the Quakers may put them at odds with the government. Good, I say. Small pockets of acceptance eventually lead to wider acceptance. And the way the Quakers frame their support of same-sex marriage is just so lovely. For example, the Quakers of Westminster Meeting in the UK published this statement:
We affirm the love of God for all people, whatever their sexual orientation, and our conviction that sexuality is an important part of human beings as created by God, so that to reject people on the grounds of their sexual behaviour is a denial of God’s creation.