Associated Press, 2 Jun 04

L.A. Episcopal bishop presides over same-sex union

Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- A bishop at the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese blessed a same-sex union in what is believed to be the first such action by a sitting Episcopal bishop since the church gave its tacit approval to such unions last August.

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the six-county diocese, confirmed Tuesday that he had blessed on May 16 the union of the Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, 80, and his partner of 20 years, Mark Thompson, 51. Five other bishops were present.

Church officials in Los Angeles and New York said they believed Bruno was the first sitting bishop to preside over such a ceremony since the church's General Convention last summer. The General Convention also confirmed the election of an openly gay priest as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire.

The ceremony does not mention the words marriage or wedding. The Episcopal Church does not sanction same-sex marriage.

Bruno told the Los Angeles Times he did not perform the blessing to make a political statement.

"I did it because it was the blessing of two human beings who have lived in a faithful relationship. If I trust that gay people are fully enfranchised members of our church... I have to offer the same rite of blessing to these people when I am asked as I would do for any other human being," he said Tuesday.

The conservative American Anglican Council criticized Bruno's decision in a statement released last weekend.

"These actions demonstrate that the arrogance of revisionist Episcopal bishops knows no limits as they put the homosexual agenda before any hope of unity in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion," the council statement said.

Boyd, the author of 29 books including the best-selling "Are You Running With Me, Jesus?," said the ceremony commemorated the 20th anniversary of his relationship with Thompson.

"I think these battles in the different generations are waged and probably have to be waged," Boyd told the Times. "I think we're involved in church history right now. Apparently, just because of who I am, I'm involved in church history again. I didn't ask for it."