Another consequence of redefining marriage:
"...In light of the legality of same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia and now Maryland, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, decided in December to allow an expansion of the Christian marriage sacrament. The diocese covers the district and four counties in Maryland. The change is allowed under a "local option" granted by the church's General Convention, church leaders said. Each priest in the diocese can then decide whether to perform same-sex unions.
...The House of Bishops voted last year 111-41 to authorize a provisional rite for same-sex unions. Some congregations have left the church over its inclusion of gays and lesbians over the years." (AP)
Examples like this remind us that when you redefine "civil" marriage you create the new possibility of same-sex ceremonies in churches. Gay marriage advocates love to artificially split these two recognitions of marriage when they think it suits their purposes but the categories always re-collapse as soon as a liberal church like this one decides it wants to conduct ceremonies with same-sex partners.
The simplest way to prevent same-sex ceremonies in churches is to fight for the recognition of marriage in civil law.
Many conservative Episcopalians have already left this denomination for other Christian churches that have retained their marriage tradition -- Episcopalian attendance is down 16% in the last decade alone. Mainline protestant denominations, including Methodists, Presbyterians and the worldwide Anglican communion have retained their marriage tradition, especially because the areas where Anglicanism are growing fastest in Africa and Asia, the congregations are strongly pro-marriage.
Some may see this as the Episcopalian church attempting to become even more progressive, but religion analysts such as Rob Kerby, the Senior Editor at Belief.net have asked if moves like this might signal the near collapse and "meltdown of liberal Christianity".