When laws went into effect in three states for same-sex couples to marry, many were quick to line up at their city halls to exchange vows. Now they may do so in one of the nation's most prominent churches - the Washington National Cathedral.
Most Americans know the house of God, also called the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, as a place where sacred rites are carried out on behalf of the nation. It has been host to the funerals of numerous presidents and of inaugural prayer services for four presidents, including Barack Obama.
But it is also an active house of worship in the Episcopalian Church, said the Cathedral's dean, Gary Hall. The denomination has developed a blessing rite that mirrors current wedding ceremonies for heterosexual couples and allows each bishop to decide to allow same-sex marriages in their churches or not.
Bishop Mariann Budde decided to allow the rite, since same-sex marriage is legal in the District of Columbia and now in neighboring Maryland as well, Hall said.
It was Budde's decision that led Hall to create the same-sex rite. He sees it as "another historic step toward greater equality."