The legitimacy of homosexual relationships in society and in religious settings was the subject of a number of developments over the summer.
Courts in Ontario and British Columbia legalized same-sex marriage. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said his government would introduce legislation legalizing gay marriage nationally but would allow religions to define marriage as they saw fit. The Roman Catholic church criticized the development, with one bishop saying the Prime Minister’s soul was in jeopardy; the United Church of Canada praised it.
In the Anglican diocese of New Westminster, the first gay blessing ceremony took place in May. In the Episcopal Church of the United States, the election of Canon Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire was approved at the national church’s General Convention. He is the church’s first openly-gay bishop. ECUSA also acknowledged that ceremonies blessing gay relationships are taking place within its churches. In Great Britain, another openly gay episcopal candidate, Canon Jeffrey John, withdrew from his appointment as suffragan bishop of Reading, saying he was concerned about church unity.