Sitting down in front of her bishop, Reverend Andrea Brennan drew an analogy.
“Marriage equality, from the perspective of a queer clergy person – for the longest time, we were staring at a blank wall. You can’t come in. Then someone put a door in the wall, but it was a storm door and we couldn’t see though, but we could hear. Then the storm door was replaced by a screen door, and we could see through, but were not yet allowed to come through, and we were told:
“You can do all of the things in the church; you can be a layperson, you can be a clergy person, you can be a bishop in the church and be gay, that’s totally okay. You can receive the sacrament of communion, you can be confirmed, you can baptized, you can do all of these wonderful things. But we won’t allow you to marry the person you love,” she said.
If she fell in love with a man in the church, Brennan could marry without issue. If she fell in love with a woman and wanted to marry in the church, she couldn’t.
“I said, we’re making steps forward, and every time we start to get frustrated and say, what about us, do we not count? We’re told; just be patient,” said Brennan.
“That’s fine and good when you’re not the person being asked to wait.”
The Anglican Church of Canada voted down the marriage canon amendment on July 12, preventing the policy from being added to national laws. The amendment was rejected by a narrow margin at the church’s General Synod, a meeting held every three years.
Brennan admitted that she may not be what everyone would consider a ‘perfect’ christian. But, she explained, that doesn’t make her any less in God’s eyes.
“For someone to say, ‘you’ve committed ‘sin’, so you’re not worthy to receive God’s love’; that’s not any human being’s responsibility. That’s God’s responsibility. I wouldn’t want that job. That’s way too much responsibility for me,” said Brennan.
(In Brennan’s home, a pride flag hangs beside her Alb. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)
Andrea Brennan stood in front of the Christ Church Anglican Fernie congregation on Sunday, July 21 and announced that despite the failure to amend the marriage canon nationally, the Anglican Diocese of the Kootenay would be allowing same-gender marriages.
The night before announcing this to the church, the reverend sat in her home before a table full of documents and tried to explain how she was feeling, one week after returning from the General Synod in Vancouver.
She spoke to many of the positive changes that came out of the Synod (For more on this see story on pages A1 and A4), but addressed a controversial issue: the failure to amend the marriage canon.
In reflection of this decision by the bishops to vote down the marriage canon, Brennan said she feels hamstrung by a group of people intent on preserving the traditional view of marriage, no matter what; no matter who gets hurt.
Scrolling through a comment section online, Brennan saw the comments from many who share this traditional view.
“I’m reading these and I’m thinking, how many of these people actually know someone who’s queer? Because I’m pretty sure if they did, they wouldn’t have quite so hard a line. Now maybe they would, but I would hope not,” she said.
Marriage equality, she explained, has been in affect in Canada since 2002.
“We’ve had people come from the United States to Canada for years, for decades, because they can get married here.
“A number of people that I know would come for vacation to Montreal, get married, honeymoon and go home. And then find out later that their marriage wasn’t recognized by that state. It is now because they have marriage equality in the states,” explained Brennan.
“But imagine being with someone whom you love more than you’ve ever loved another person, and you want to spend your life with them, you want to get married, you want to make that commitment to be with that person for the rest of your life.
“And then someone says nah, no you can’t. Sorry.”
Brennan has very much enjoyed working with their new Kootenay bishop, Lynne McNaughton, a person whom Brennan sees as progressive, strong, kind-hearted, approachable; real.
One week after witnessing General Synod through live stream, McNaughton announced that, with the approval of the Anglican Church of Canada, diocese in the Kootenay region would be able to choose for themselves whether or not they would allow same-gender marriages.
In March 2019, Brennan and several other members of the church worked tirelessly to complete the necessary processes in order to become an affirming congregation (in favour of gender equality).
“As far as she (McNaughton) is concerned, Kootenay will have marriage equality as of the 1st of August,” said Brennan.
Brennan doesn’t anticipate that come August 1st they will have same-gender couples pounding on the doors to become married, but she said it goes a long way for them to be able to say that they are an inclusive and welcoming congregation.
On Tuesday night, the Christ Church committee was set to meet to decide if they would apply to the bishop for marriage equality.