While Texas does not recognize same-sex unions, there are some creative ways in which couples can protect themselves legally in case something happens. Some same-sex couples want more than legal protection; they want their unions to be recognized and accepted. St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin will soon be able to offer them that recognition.
After years of debate on the issue, the Episcopal Church has decided to offer same-sex couples a blessing through a church ceremony reminiscent of a traditional wedding that includes prayer and the exchange of vows and rings. Despite their similarities, these blessings are not the same as a marriage from either a legal or religious point of view, as many Christian denominations still look at marriage as a sacrament that can only be bestowed upon a traditional man-and-woman couple.
The decision was made final at the church’s national convention in July 2012, and it was made possible by several years of work on the part of one of the church’s bishops and a former politician. This decision makes the Episcopal Church the largest religious denomination in the country to officially recognize same-sex relationships.
St. David’s has roughly 2,500 parishioners, many of whom are lesbian or gay. While they don’t currently have any blessings on the schedule, if they do go ahead as planned next month, they will make history as the state’s first Episcopal Church to bless same-sex couples.
While the church’s recognition of same-sex unions is a giant step toward loving one’s neighbor, it does not give any more legal rights to these couples. If death, illness or simply a same-sex separation should occur, it can be a devastating loss, especially when trying to sort out property division or child custody issues. Even those who participate in a blessing ceremony should understand what legal avenues they have to protect their families and assets in case the worst should happen.
Source: Hilltop Views, “Austin Episcopal church to offer first same-sex blessing in Texas,” Kelsey Acosta, Feb. 5, 2013