Hot issues and long sessions
The House of Deputies has finally gotten down to business. Yesterday, after a long discussion filled with parliamentary maneuvers by those opposed to the resolution, the House of Deputies did vote to approve D025. The resolution was carefully crafted to begin with several statements of support for the Anglican Communion and then moved to affirm what is already in our canons and in resolutions passed by General Convention in 2000. The opponents first tried to divide the motion so that the positive statements on the Anglican Communion were separate from the statements related to recognition of faithful, monogamous relationships in or out of marriages (approved in 2000) and the nondiscriminatory statement already in Title III of the Church's canons that applies to the discernment process. They also tried amending one phrase that would have removed same-sex partnerships from the statement that gays and lesbians had answered God's call in ministry. This would have affirmed celibate gays but not partnered ones. None of the efforts succeeded, and in the end the resolution passed in a vote by orders by over 70% in each house.
This morning we took up a defered resolution approving the election of a bishop for Central Equador by the House of Bishops. The history behind this situation and the reason the House of Bishops was doing the election rather than the diocese is too complex to report here, but what was clear to all is that the diocese in question was deeply divided as was the deputation to general convention. The need to translate everything became an issue in itself. In the end the house concurred in the election, but all recognized that the man elected bishop was going into a very difficult situation. After these two votes, the log jam on legislation began to break apart and we even succeeded in finding a way to get the majority necessary to elect the rest of the Church Pension Fund trustees and the second lay representative to the Court of Trial for a Bishop.
After some discussion, we also passed an amended Title IV (the disciplinary canons ) with some editorial changes, and then moved to another hotly discussed item - adding gender identity and expression to the nondiscrimination clause regarding the discernment process for clergy. This was also a vote by orders, and we adjourned before hearing the outcome of that vote. The terms "gender identity and expression" were added at the request of transgendered people (i.e. those whose internal sense of gender and their actual bodies are mismatched). One young man (born with female physical characteristics) is a deputy from Rhode Island, and spoke during the discussion.
The discussion has been respectful and the voting keypad glitches, occasional parliamentary slip-ups, and some of the announcements actually have brought some needed laughter (laughing WITH each other, not AT each other) and a few breaks. The Pittsburgh deputation shares tables in the house with the Diocese of California. California shared almonds with us yesterday. Since it was going to be a little hard to offer them perogies, I bought some chocolate covered popcorn and we passed that around, sharing our artery-clogging Pittsburgh food preferences with them.