Washington National Cathedral pealed its bells in thanksgiving for major advances in equality for LGBT Americans this June, shortly after the Supreme Court announced decisions against the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.
During a press conference with interfaith leaders strongly supportive of the marriage-equality decisions, Dean Hall reflected on the significance of the day’s events. “Today’s rulings advance civil marriage equality, but they should also serve as a call for Christians to embrace religious marriage equality,” he noted. “Countless faithful people have lived out their lives in committed same-sex relationships, and we have seen the fruits of their fidelity in our families, our congregations, and our communities. If we use this historic moment to see more clearly how their faithfulness contributes to the common good, we will better be able to walk with our LGBT sisters and brothers as an act of faith.”
Later that evening, Hall officiated at a special “Service of Thanksgiving Celebrating an Increase in Compassion and Equality” in the Cathedral’s nave for the LGBT community and its allies and offered further thoughts about what he said (to laughter) had been a “great day.”
“I am grateful to God and to Kathy Hall (probably not in that order) for the blessing of 35 years of Christian marriage. I am grateful to God and the Supreme Court (definitely in that order) for the breakthrough of today’s decisions,” Hall said. “When everything is finally said and done—when God’s purposes have been fulfilled, when our human spouses have been parted by death—we will all, I believe, stand together with God in a moment of wonder, love, and praise at the divine blessing that has been working itself out in the universe since the beginning. Today’s decisions will shine as one of many moments when faithful men and women have seen the possibilities of a divine love that will not let us go.”
Music for the service, directed by Canon Michael McCarthy, featured African drums. A litany of prayers chosen by the Rev. Gina Campbell, director of worship, were taken from such diverse figures as Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple (1881–1944) and the Book of Common Prayer, drawing on the breadth of the Anglican tradition.
Earlier in June, the Cathedral continued its outreach to the local LGBT community when Dean Hall led the first formal contingent in the Capital Pride Parade on June 8. Around 40 members of the Cathedral’s LGBT ministry group and supporters, as well as other LGBT members of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, marched behind a large purple banner in the parade spanning from Dupont Circle to the 14th Street corridor.
Considered an historic first, the Cathedral’s participation was met with appreciation and admiration by the local LGBT community, and was also noted in news coverage of the festivities. “If my being seen in the parade is a visible sign that God loves and accepts people across the full spectrum of human sexuality, it will have achieved its purpose,” Dean Hall told the Washington Post.