Blessing Same-Sex Couples

21 March 2023

A small number of Unitarian ministers had been quietly blessing same-sex relationships for decades, in private homes, pubs, and sometimes in their churches. Sometimes these ministers had the support of their congregations, but not always.

In 1992, Roman Catholic theologian Dr. Elizabeth Stuart published ‘Daring to Speak Love’s Name: A Gay and Lesbian Prayer Book’, which included prayers and contributions from many Unitarians, including Dudley Cave and Revs. Andrew Hill, Ann Peart and A. Powell Davies.

In 1993, a section on same-sex blessings was included in an official Unitarian book of services for the first time, with Rev. Andrew Hill’s ‘Celebrating Life’, published by the General Assembly’s Lindsey Press. It was recognised with an Institute of Social Inventions Award.

Jeff Gould, interviewed February, 2023:
Ours was the first denomination openly to bless same-sex relationships, and now of course we allow marriages to take place on chapel or church premises. So, we’ve gone from decriminalisation to full equality in the eyes of the law, and I think that has been reflected in the life of the churches. But each successive step to get us to where we are now, has been painful, and has been successfully achieved by people being very open and very persistent.”

“When I was called to a ministry in England in 1999, I was asked to pledge that I would not carry out same sex blessings in the chapel or in private homes. With regret I said I would agree to that, but I asked that we revisit the issue from time and time – and when I left after 8 and a half years, I was allowed to bless same sex relationships.