A rainbow pride flag has been flying atop the flagpole outside of Christ Church in Chatham since Monday. The flag shows the church’s support and welcoming of the LGBTQ community after Canada’s national Anglican church rejected allowing same-sex marriage last week.
The Anglican Church of Canada held its General Synod last week in Vancouver. The church was voting on a motion to amend its marriage canon, religious text or rules, from a union being between a man and women to all persons – effectively allowing same-sex marriage within the religion. In a close vote, the motion failed.
“I thought for sure it was going to pass, it was a shock,” said Christ Church’s Rev. John Maroney. He said the flag was raised to show solidarity with the marginalized LGBTQ community.
“It’s our way of saying, ‘Yes, you are good enough, you are children of God,'” he said. “This is a home where you can come in, no matter what.”
To pass, the motion needed a two-thirds majority in each of the church’s three groups of delegates: the laity, clergy and bishops. It passed in the laity and clergy, but fell just short with 62.2 per cent of the bishops voting to approve the amendment. The close vote offered no consolation for Maroney, who said it still meant they were back to Square 1.
Maroney said it’s an “injustice” that the decision tells the LGBTQ community they can be involved in the religion, but can’t get married because the Anglican church wasn’t ready to change its canons.
“That just doesn’t sit well with me,” he said.
Maroney said the rejected vote goes against the religious concepts of the good Samaritan and love thy neighbour.
“Here we think it’s the great commandment, love thy neighbour as yourself, and that’s why that flag is not coming down,” he said.
Christ Church had no involvement in the vote. Maroney said it’s a shame two loving people can’t be married in the church.
“It’s just a matter of principle that you love no matter what, love is love,” he said.
The church got lots of support from the community after raising the flag, Maroney said. He wears a rainbow bracelet on his right wrist, which prompted multiple people to tell him about their kids being bullied in school for being gay or transgender.
“We don’t want to bully in here,” Maroney said. “This is not just about the marriage canon, this is about the dignity of every single human being.”
Maroney said he likely won’t be able to change the minds of those who fundamentally reject the LGBTQ community and knows he’ll get flak for the flag, but he doesn’t care.
“What we can do is lead by example and be absolutely compassionate and loving to everybody,” he said.