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Jul 26, 2011 4:58 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Most East End Houses Of Worship Won't Wed Same-Sex Couples

Jul 27, 2011 12:48 PM

Wedding bells for same-sex couples started ringing across New York State this week, with the state’s legalization of gay weddings taking effect on Sunday—but the church bells at most East End churches will remain silent when it comes to nontraditional weddings.

Of more than 80 houses of worship in East Hampton and Southampton towns contacted this week, most said that despite Albany’s decision, they would not perform a religious ceremony to marry gay and lesbian couples, because their respective religions or denominations forbid it, citing their devotion to their guiding scriptures and possible penalties from larger church bodies for pastors who disobey.

A handful of religious leaders said, however, that they recognize and sanction same-sex marriage, with many citing God’s love for all. And a few others, including representatives of several Methodist and Presbyterian churches, said the issue is still a hot topic of debate.

At one end of the spectrum are evangelical Christians, who are perhaps the most vocally opposed to the new state law. This group includes the Pentecostal denomination of the Southampton Full Gospel Church, whose pastor, the Reverend Donald Havrilla, lambasted homosexuality in an interview last week.

“They’re sinful, unbiblical, unchristian, and we would not participate in it,” Rev. Havrilla said of gays and lesbians and the prospect of performing same-sex marriages.

The pastor—who along with six others protested outside Southampton Town Hall on Tuesday morning before the town’s first same-sex wedding—said the Bible refers to homosexuality as sodomy and an abomination. He attributed the fall of the ancient Roman and Greek empires, in part, to homosexuality.

Others, like the Hampton Bays Assembly of God, also will not perform same-sex marriage, with representatives stating that the Bible teaches the sinfulness of homosexuality.

But same-sex weddings will take place at several more progressive East End churches, including the Incarnation Lutheran Church in Bridgehampton and the St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett. Also, same-sex couples can still exchange nuptials in civil ceremonies held at East Hampton and Southampton town halls.

“For Lutherans, our Christian identity comes through our baptism, not our sexuality,” explained the Reverend Katrina Foster, D.Min., pastor of both churches. “And we celebrate when two adults have made a decision to publicly celebrate the love that God has created, sustained and continues in them.” Pastor Foster, who is openly gay and was married in 2009 to her longtime partner in Connecticut where gay marriage is legal, said last week that she has already agreed to perform a seaside same-sex wedding.

Episcopalian priests on Long Island have been granted bishop approval to determine individually whether or not to perform same-sex marriages, and Father Patrick Ward, the interim priest at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Westhampton Beach, said he is in favor of doing so, although he has not received any requests yet.

“I think allowing same-sex couples to marry is a good thing, and I think it’s keeping with the spirit of Jesus and his law of love,” he said, adding that the understanding of sexuality has evolved to acknowledge that same-sex orientation can be natural, a point not understood 2,000 years ago.

When asked about some denominations’ pointing to the Bible to support their views against such marriage, Father Ward replied: “In the Book of Leviticus, it says that a man that lies with a man as with a woman is an abomination unto the Lord, and then five or six chapters later it says that someone caught in that kind of act should be put to death. And I always wonder, ‘Why do you take one literally and not the other?’

“People are often very inconsistent about they way they quote scripture and are very inaccurate,” he continued. “People are free to believe what they want to believe. What I don’t agree with is that their view is the only Christian view.”

Officials with the local Roman Catholic churches, meanwhile, said they are standing in line with the Vatican’s position that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Most local Catholic priests declined to discuss the issue, although Monsignor Jeffrey Madley, of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church in Southampton Village, explained that his church does not accept same-sex marriage because it is in opposition to the church’s natural law, which traditionally has accepted only opposite-sex marriage because of the possibility of conception.

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I would have much rather read about the celebration surrounding the first wedding In Southampton than this dribble, which is both uninteresting and poorly written. Patch covered this story the right way yesterday, you guys missed the news.
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on Jul 27, 11 10:14 AM
2 members liked this comment
The Press did run a feature story on Mr. Rambaud and Mr.Ceppos and their plans to be the first same-sex couple married in Southamptontwo weeks ago. To do the same story again would only be redundant.
By Bill Sutton, Managing Editor (117), Westhampton Beach on Jul 27, 11 10:35 AM
I disagree Bill. Why not do both stories? A follow-up to your story two weeks ago saying how the day went, our town clerk's reactions, the grooms' reactions, how the room was filled, etc., would have been a really nice celebratory story. Then you could have also had the places of worship climate.

To ignore this historical, monumental day in our history is the Press' loss. Patch.com did do an excellent job.
By LMVT (56), Shinnecock Indian Reservation on Jul 27, 11 10:49 AM
2 members liked this comment
I don't normally comment but feel compelled to now. You guys dropped the ball on this one and I can't believe you can defend this story and the boring pictures that went with it as the best possible coverage. LMVT is right, a follow up would not be redundant and you missed this moment. I love reading 27east but time and time again I feel like Patch does it better. They are really listening to what the community wants to read and it’s obvious by your response above that it’s not important ...more
By Must Comment (1), Southampton on Jul 27, 11 2:12 PM
3 members liked this comment
I have to agree. Patch reports, the Press has a reputation for printing stories designed to stir things up!
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jul 28, 11 10:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
Real_Local - The Patch is doing a fantastic job, everyday I am surprised at how much reporting and good reporting they do. Journalism before Capitalism.
By splashdown (21), sag harbor on Aug 1, 11 6:36 PM
I agree with LMVT; to have this article with the photo of the newlyweds is unfair to them - it was THEIR day - that they've waited for far longer than they should have had to - THAT was the story, not how the "houses of worship" are reacting. Ask any newlywed & they are more than happy to share the details of their wedding day. The Press missed the boat on this one...
By EastEnder2 (30), Hampton Bays on Jul 27, 11 11:50 AM
2 members liked this comment
I agree with EastEnder2! It was their day and any negativity should come next month.
By Latenighter (9), Southampton on Jul 27, 11 1:38 PM
2 members liked this comment
What I don't understand is why the article equates the various churches' positions with the civil ceremonies being performed in Southampton and East Hampton town halls, or why the article states that the churches refuse to perform same sex marriages despite the determinations of the state legislature. One of the great problems we as a country have with the same sex marriage debate is our inability to understand and appreciate that the civil institution and the religious institution are seperate ...more
By ex-pat (49), East Quogue on Jul 28, 11 2:48 PM
Im glad they if 2 people they love each other they can get married, but not at my church, not in front of my kids............, please!!!
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Jul 28, 11 3:09 PM
Then don't bring your kids and let people live!!!
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jul 28, 11 3:18 PM
2 members liked this comment
I love when parents say this. You know how many of my gay friends' parents I've watched stick their foot in their mouths because 10-15 years ago they said the same thing? It's fine to be gay. You choose being gay as much as you choose your ethnicity or your sex. The sooner our laws change, the sooner that society as a whole can change....good riddance!

Enjoy your happy, wonderful bubble while you can lovinlife.....you may not be for much longer, lol
By LMVT (56), Shinnecock Indian Reservation on Jul 28, 11 9:45 PM
wow... a lot of contradiction/ hypocrisy right there..

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
By splashdown (21), sag harbor on Aug 1, 11 6:35 PM
Congrats to Frederic and Alan. It's nice to know that they can enjoy the same rights as all other people who want to spend their lives together. Opposing same sex marriage is as bizarre to me as opposing blonde people marrying brown haired people. Leave them alone and go do something productive with yourself! And regarding churches, I think it's quite simple: churches operate on sets of belief systems - if a particular church doesn't want to support gay marriage, that's their right. I have no problem ...more
By getalife (61), Southampton on Jul 29, 11 10:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Homosexual marriage is not now, and never will be normal.
By Avatar (15), Westhampton Beach on Aug 6, 11 5:41 PM