Following a June recommendation by the Board of Ministry, Rev. Peter J.Gomes, Pusey minister for Memorial Church, announced in early July that the Church will allow same-sex commitment ceremonies, but Gomes said he believes it is "too early really to tell" what the decision will mean at Harvard and beyond.
According to Rev. Thomas B. Chittick, president of United Ministry and minister of University Lutheran Church, the policy is consistent with "nondiscrimination of use which is the Harvard policy. It's just a continuation of the policy."
"The policy does not tell ministers of Memorial Church what to do. It merely says that nondiscrimination applies to the chapel if the service is a religious one," he said. Chittick was member of the three person task force appointed in February by the Board of Ministry to examine the issue.
The newly-established policy permits same-sex couples who are members of the University community to hold religious union or blessing ceremonies in the Church. Gomes said he expects some criticism for the decision despite the minimal campus stir this summer.
Gomes, who said he was "pleased" to make the change, noted that "just because we haven't heard anything yet doesn't mean there isn't anything out there to be heard."
Kelly K. Monroe, who is affiliated with the Cambridgeport Baptist Church and is a member of United Ministry said she considers the decision "not surprising but yet...unfortunate."
For members and supporters of the gay community both at Harvard and beyond, the decision, while not surprising to them either, has so far meant satisfaction.
Gomes said he did not presume to speak for the gay community, but he hoped the new policy would help gay people who "hadn't given up religion."