May 23, 2011
In a letter published May 16 in the New York Times in reference to same-sex civil unions, and reproduced below, Bishop Sisk expressed his support for equal rights for all before the law, and applauded the fact that at the Diocesan Convention in Nov 2008 the Episcopal Diocese of New York as a whole had voted in support of legislation to enable such unions in New York State.
"When expressing views in this format, however, it is not always possible to be as nuanced as one would like," he said, expanding on the letter. "I want to make it clear that I do not mean to suggest that every Episcopalian, either elsewhere in the country or here in the Diocese of New York, agrees with me on this - I speak only for myself and for the majority of the Diocese who voted in favor of the legislation. A sizable minority - although I do believe it is a minority - disagrees, in some cases strongly. Those people's views are honestly and prayerfully held, and deserve to be listened to with respect."
Bishop Sisk also drew the important distinction between the support of people of faith for equal rights for all before the law - and hence their right to be legally married - and the far more complex and difficult issue of the sacramental character of gay and lesbian unions. "Opinions within the Episcopal Church are far more widely varied on whether or not such unions should be recognized within the Church, and if recognized, what the nature of that recognition should be," he said. "At The Episcopal Church's General Convention in 2009, legislation was passed calling for a renewed pastoral response from the church in light of changing circumstances in civil legislation regarding marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons. It also provided for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships and urged the honoring of the theological diversity of our church in regard to matters of human sexuality. That process is still continuing."
The text of the Bishop's letter to was as follows:
To the Editor:
Not all people of faith oppose the granting of equal civil rights without regard to gender orientation ("Faith Groups Campaign to Block Gay Marriage," news article, May 6).
Speaking personally, I support the proposed New York legislation. So too, I am happy to say, does the Episcopal Diocese of New York, which voted in 2008 to call on the governor and the Legislature to enact it.
(Rt. Rev.) MARK S. SISK
Episcopal Bishop of New York
New York, May 9, 2011