The first openly gay Episcopal bishop told a Los Angeles gathering yesterday that the church should begin mending divisions over the issue of same-sex marriage by getting out of the civil marriage business altogether.
During a visit to St. Michael and All Angels Church, the Rev. Gene Robinson said he favored the system used in France and other parts of Europe in which civil marriage – performed by government officials – is completely separate from religious vows. In the United States, the civil and religious ceremonies often are combined by the cleric signing the government marriage license.
“In this country, it has become very confusing about where the civil action begins and ends and where the religious action begins and ends, because we have asked clergy to be agents of the state,” said Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire.