The Southwestern Washington (State) Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), meeting in assembly at the Hilton Hotel, Vancouver, Washington, on May 19, 2012, passed a resolution calling for support for those who marry same-gender couples and calling on the synod to support same-gender couples and their families. The resolution passed overwhelmingly.
The resolution passed by the assembly called on the synod bishop, staff and pastors, consistent with their bound-conscience, to support pastors and congregations who married same-gender couples and further called upon congregations and members of the synod to welcome, care for, and support same‐gender couples and their families and to advocate for their legal protection.
During the debate, in response to a query from the floor of the assembly, Secretary of the ELCA David Swartling, at the assembly as the representative of the national church, said that the marriage of same-gender couples in states where that was legal was neither endorsed nor precluded by ELCA policy. Marriage in those circumstances was at the discretion of pastors and congregations.
Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, Lutherans Concerned/North America, said of the stance taken by the synod assembly, “This vote affirms marriage equality in Washington State and the families of loving same-gender couples. The clarification by Secretary of the ELCA Swartling is a benchmark of the position that ELCA policy takes nationally on the subject of pastors and congregations marrying same-gender couples where that is legal. This was an excellent process, the work of the Holy Spirit was apparent in the conversation, and the outcome of this assembly most welcome.”