St. Margaret's readies to host same-sex weddings

Palm Desert, Calif. - With the Supreme Court clearing the way for same sex marriages to resume in California, gay weddings figure to soon be big business in the Palm Springs area.

The amount of churches that make it their business to marry same sex couples remains to be seen.

At least one large church in Palm Desert is in support of the Supreme Court's decisions on California's Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

"We're very excited about the news that came out of the Supreme Court," The Reverend Lane Hensley of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church said. "It's finally an affirmation that the world and the state are able to see things that we've been able to see in the lives of faithful people for a long time."

Father Hensley says St. Margaret's has been blessing same sex unions for years. The Supreme Court's decision will allow the church to host official weddings recognized by the state.

"The only thing that changes under the law now is whether we can sign the license," Hensley said. "And as soon as California is issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, we'll be happy to sign them as part of the ceremony."

Each church will deal with the Supreme Court's decision in its own way. Just across the parking lot from St. Margaret's Episcopal Church is Palm Desert Community Presbyterian, where business will proceed as usual.

"The decisions that have been made at state and federal levels will not change how we live out and practice our faith," Palm Desert Community Presbyterian Lead Pastor, Doug Garrard said.

Garrard says his church has gay members and those that support gay marriage, but he says the majority hold a more traditional understanding based on the scripture that marriage is between a man and a woman.

"We live out our faith together," Garrard said. "And our love for Jesus Christ in respect for each other."

Father Hensley says there are some at St. Margaret's who will not agree with the church's decision to host same sex weddings, but the response from the members within his church has largely been very positive.

"We would say to the world that we see the work of God bearing fruit in the eyes of faithful people," Hensley said.

St. Margaret's Episcopal Church will host a public conversation to discuss the immediate practical impact of the court's ruling.

An attorney will be on hand to discuss legal and health care issues surrounding same sex marriage.

The church is on highway 74 in Palm Desert. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, 

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