The Washington National Cathedral, which plays a significant role of hosting prayer services for presidents and memorial services for national tragedies, will soon begin performing same-sex wedding ceremonies.
The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, has announced on Wednesday that, effective immediately, same-sex weddings may be "celebrated" at the Cathedral.
"For more than 30 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed and studied to discern the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of same-sex couples. It is now only fitting that the National Cathedral follow suit. We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of God—and doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation.” Hall said in the offical statement.
The National Organization for Marriage's Communications Director Thomas Peters said to AP that the cathedral's change was "disappointing but not surprising," given the direction of the Episcopal Church.
"The message here is that conservative Episcopalians are being pushed out," said Thomas Peters.
In light of the cathedral's national prominence, Peters called the marriage announcement "an opportunity for people to wake up to what's happening."
"It reminds us that marriage is really an all or nothing deal," he said. "Does America want to retain its marriage tradition or fundamentally give it up?"
Some conservative Episcopalians have left the Episcopal Church over the years because its inclusion of gays and lesbians.
Cathedral officials said the church will be among the first Episcopal congregations to implement a new rite of marriage adapted from the blessing ceremony for gay and lesbian couples that was approved last year by the Episcopal Church's national governing body.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia.