Although same-sex marriage has at times been commonplace in other parts of the world, church weddings for gay and lesbian couples are a more recent phenomenon in America. UUA churches performed same-sex ceremonies in the late 1950s. The Metropolitan Community Church’s founder, Rev. Troy Perry, conducted their first church ceremony for same-sex partners on December 3, 1968, in Los Angeles.|
Since then, a growing number of mainstream churches and synagogues have begun performing same-sex marriage ceremonies, unions or covenants. On June 26, 1984, the Unitarian Universalists General Assembly approved union services for same-sex couples. In 1996, the Reconstructionist Jewish Rabbinical Association endorsed same-sex marriage. In addition, marriage or blessing rites are increasingly available within individual congregations.
If you want to be married in a church or synagogue, consult the minister or rabbi where you worship, or call local congregations with a record of acceptance. In most cases, you’ll be asked to undergo counseling sessions intended to prepare couples for the marriage commitment.
If you encounter resistance, you may want to share with your congregation the statements from more welcoming congregations, such as those listed below.
While marriage ceremonies are powerful social and familial events, they do not in any way give any of the more than 150-350 rights and responsibilities of legal marriage offered by each state — nor of the more than a thousand rights built into federal laws that are triggered by legal marriage.
A Quick List of U.S. Religious Denominations that have|
Endorsed or Held Ceremonies for Same-Sex Couples
Individual congregations may vary.
American Apostolic Catholic Church
American Catholic Church International
American Baptist Church
Decision to perform LGBT unions is left up to individual churches and pastors.
In January 2008, The New Baptist Covenant Celebration, held and organized by Presidents Carter and
Clinton, included groups advocating LGBT equality. The report from the event of more than 18,000 people
from numerous Baptist denominations includes a point on protecting the “civil rights of gays and lesbians.”
American Ethical Union
Anglican - Canadian diocese
California Council of Churches
Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)
Celtic Christian Church
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Doesn’t endorse marriage equality.
However, local churches and pastors may perform same-sex unions, or marriages.
Covenant of the Goddess (Wiccan)
On July 1, 2015, the Episcopal Church voted to allow same-sex weddings, which solidifyed the church’s
embrace of gay rights that began more than a decade ago, with the election of the first openly gay bishop.
Evangelican Anglican Church (USA)
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Local churches and pastors decide about performing same-sex ceremonies, including marriage where legal.
In 2000, the Greater Milwaukee Synod became the first ELCA synod to endorse blessing same-sex unions.
“This church acknowledges with regret the way in which the misuse of historical teachings concerning
sexuality has harmed individuals, deepened suffering, or torn families apart. This includes actions
that abandon or shun people for unwed pregnancy or for a same-sex orientation. Hate crimes and
violence against those who are regarded as sexually different sometimes have been publicly perpetrated
in the name of Christ. Not only must such behaviors be denounced, but this church must work toward
greater understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
- “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” Evangelical Lutheran Church, August 19, 2009
First Nation Church
As of April 2007, allows same-sex unions, April 2007
See the First Nation statement in our article: Quotes: Legal Marriage)
Hawaii Council of Churches
Humanist Society (was Humanist Society of Friends)
Reconciling Congregations (United Methodist)
Reformed Catholic Church (USA)
Does not endorse marriage equality
However, local churches and pastors may perform same-sex unions or marriages.
Central Conference of American Rabbis affirms the legalization of same-sex marriage
Metropolitan Community Church
Endorses marriage equality and performs holy unions and same-sex marriages.
Orthodox Catholic Church
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Affirms the legalization of same-sex marriage
Affirms the ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as ministers and lay leaders.
Allow pastors to perform holy unions and same-sex marriages.
Quaker (Society of Friends)
Secular Humanistic Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Church
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Endorses marriage equality, recognizes same-sex couples, and performs unions.
Starting in 1970, resolutions have been passed at General Assembly regarding discrimination,
AIDS, the military, sex education in public schools, marriage equality, ENDA, and more.
In 1984, a General Assembly resolution was passed in support of same-sex marriage.
UUA churches performed same-sex ceremonies in the late 1950s. In 1996, a General Assembly
resolution supported full marriage equality. UUA actively encourages congregations to work for,
marriage equality and leaders continuously advocate for marriage equality nationally.
United Church of Canada
Endorses marriage equality and recognizes same-sex couples.
Individual pastors allowed to perform same-sex marriages (legal throughout Canada).
United Church of Christ
Endorses marriage equality and recognizes same-sex couples. Pastors may perform unions.
The UCC was the first mainline Protestant denomination to support marriage equality.
As of April 2000, 321 of its 6,100 congregations have declared they welcome gay men and lesbians.
United Methodist Church
Against marriage equality and same-sex unions.
However, a growing number of pastors and churches perform marriages and unions.
Unity Fellowship Churches
Universal Life Church
Religious Organizations Actively Supporting|
Ceremonies for Same-Sex Couples
American Catholic Church International (ACCI)
The ACCI affirms traditional Catholic beliefs of faith and love, spirituality, community, and prayer. It celebrates the Seven Sacraments, and adheres to the essentials of Catholic doctrine and practice as expressed and implied in the statements of Vatican Council II, and in the light of the best contemporary Catholic thought. The ACCI proclaims the unconditional love and compassion of God, which embraces every human person regardless of their state or condition in life, including issues as divorce and re-marriage, birth control, sexual orientation, and complex medical issues. The ACCI is affirming and welcoming of all God’s children.
The United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns has created the Covenant Relationships Network (CORNET). Cornet seeks to continue the tradition of hosting worship services that celebrate and witness to same-sex “covenant relationships” in United Methodist churches. They maintain lists of clergy and laity committed to the ministry of covenant services, and are campaigning to change the United Methodist Church’s official position on homosexuality.
Box 1021, Evanston, IL 60204
This Catholic-based group supports same-sex relationships and marriages through social and spiritually focused activities at the local level, offering Guidelines for Holy Union services, and maintains a National Registry of Couples whose relationships have been blessed by Dignity clergy.
Dignity / USA National Office
1500 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., #11, Washington, D.C. 20005
800-877-8797; 202-861-0017; fax 202-429-9808
Couples’ Ministry Resource Guide
This group has maintained an Office for Lesbian & Gay Concerns at its headquarters in Boston since 1976. It remains one of the most affirming religious bodies in North America today in its outreach and celebration of gay and lesbian people.
Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Concerns
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108
United Church of Christ
On July 4, 2005, the United Church of Christ became the first mainline Christian denomination to endorse same-sex marriage Monday when its 25th biennial General Synod decisively approved an “equal marriage rights for all” resolution. The Rev. John H. Thomas, the president of the UCC, had announced, on June 28, that he supported the resolution.
Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
South Africa (2005)
New Zealand (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
(England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
US States & Territories
New Hampshire (2009)
District of Columbia (2009)
New York (2011)
Rhode Island (2013)
New Jersey (2013)
New Mexico (2013)
Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
West Virginia (2014)
Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
North Carolina (2014)
South Carolina (2014)
U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
Ruling: All U.S. States must now
allow same-sex couples the
freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes|
Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)