Minute: Rochester Meeting on Sexual Orientation and Same-gender-Relationships

Rochester Friends Meeting

Minutes In Support of LGBTQ Friends and Same-gender Relationships Approved 3rd Month 13, 2005

Stepping aside from clerking, Sue Regen presented a minute passed by the Central Committee of Friends General Conference (FGC), describing the many contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer Friends, as well as the positive experiences of Friends who have served with these individuals in conducting the business of FGC. (See text of FGC minute.)

The FGC minute arose partly out of the committee’s discernment about holding the 2005 FGC Gathering in Virginia, a state that recently passed legislation denying legal rights to individuals in same-sex relationships. During the discussion, Friends were reminded of our meeting’s minute in support of same-sex marriages.

Rochester Monthly Meeting affirms the goodness of committed, loving, relationships that are enduring, unselfish, mutually tender, and supportive. We find it consistent with Friends’ belief in the inner light to recognize the loving commitment of two people, regardless of their sex.

We affirm our willingness as a Meeting to hold meetings for worship in celebration of loving commitment for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. We will follow the customary and careful process of arriving at clearness for any couple who request our oversight, provided that one or both partners are members of the Religious Society of Friends. We will follow our traditional procedures in the conduct of the special meeting for worship. The couple’s choice of "marriage," "celebration of commitment" or some other term to best characterize the special meeting for worship and their ongoing relationship will be discussed in the clearness process and in the plans for the monthly meeting’s oversight of the special meeting.

At this time marriage of a same-sex couple is not licensed or recognized by the State of New York. Couples whose marriages are not to be or cannot be registered with the state are counseled that the automatic legal guarantees and obligations with respect to inheritance of property, Social Security benefits, and guardianship of minor children do not apply. Legal contracts and wills can protect property and inheritance benefits for such couples. Other guidance for individuals and clearness committees is available in the marriage file of Ministry and Oversight committee.

The following actions were taken with regard to these two minutes:

Friends endorsed the FGC Central Committee minute and directed the clerk to forward the endorsement, along with our minute on same-sex marriage, to the clerk of FGC, Marian Beane. Friends requested that the accompanying letter express the positive regard for and experiences with gay and lesbian friends in our own meeting community, as well as our strong sense of holding the FGC Gathering community in our prayers as they witness to these concerns while in Virginia.

Friends approved forwarding the two minutes to Farmington-Scipio regional meeting for their endorsement during the business meeting at Spring Gathering in May. Copies of the minutes are also to be forwarded to New York Yearly Meeting for informational purposes.