Nat'l Cathedral Gay Marriage Change 'Not Surprising'

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Opponents of gay marriage are expressing disappointment but not surprise at the announcement that same-sex weddings can now be performed at Washington National Cathedral.

The Episcopal church operates the cathedral. Peter Sprigg, with the Family Research Council, said that the denomination "has been moving away from Christian orthodoxy on the subject of sexuality" for years.

Sprigg predicted the decision will accelerate the Episcopal Church's long-running decline in membership.

Thomas Peters, a spokesman for the National Organization for Marriage, said the National Cathedral's announcement shows "that marriage is really an all or nothing deal."

He said Americans must ask whether they want to retain traditional marriage "or fundamentally give it up."

The 106-year-old cathedral has served as the spiritual center for the nation's capital, hosting funerals for Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, and last year for Prison Fellowship's Charles Colson and astronaut Neil Armstrong.

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, the cathedral's dean, said performing same-sex marriage is an opportunity to break down barriers and build a more inclusive community that "reflects the diversity of God's world."

He said embracing gay marrige is "being faithful to the kind of community that Jesus would have us be."

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