Montrose's St. Stephen's Will Hold Houston's First Episcopal Ceremony "Marrying" Gays

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St, Stephen's Episcopal is in the heart of Montrose, and it has long embraced the neighborhood's live-and-let-live vibe. (Kids, it really used to be like that before the townhomes invaded.)

That tradition will continue March 17 hen it holds what it says is Houston's first Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant, which the Episcopal Church's newly adopted marriage-like rite for same-sex couples.

Jeff Meadows and Gary Patterson, who will soon celebrate their 15th anniversary together, will be the happy couple. They both have mothers in their 90s, and both will attend.

Meadows and Patterson put out a statement saying "years ago, we chose the St. Stephen's community as our church home because we were confident of acceptance as a GLBT couple. Today, we are receiving not only the acceptance of our congregation, but also the commitment of our Diocese of Texas and the Episcopal Church USA to support our lives of mutual love and respect aligned with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Our family and friends, who have been and continue to be there for us, have expressed, 'It's about time.'"

Other gay-friendly Houston churches have performed ceremonies for gay couples, but St. Stephen's says it will be the first in the city to do the new Episcopal rite, which was adopted last summer.

The church said in a press release:

. The Bishop of the Diocese of Texas granted St. Stephen's the opportunity to offer this ceremony to its community. St. Stephen's chose to perform the first ceremony during the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist service to include the congregation as part of the celebration. This celebration is not only about the individual couple, but also about the church and its commitment to inclusive Christian values.

Current Texas law does not recognize unions of same sex couples; therefore, no representation may be made that the Same Sex Liturgy either creates or solemnizes any marriage, civil union or other legal relationship.

The church says the ceremony will be open to the public.

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