Excerpt from minutes of the Meeting for business, Durham Monthly Meeting, eleventh month 14th, 1993.
Friends considered the proposed Marriage Document and the minute on marriage as published in the newsletter. Some changes were suggested. The following minute was approved.
The strength of our spiritual community at Durham Monthly Meeting comes from our devotion to God and our belief in the continuing revelation of Truth. Each of us brings distinctive experiences to this process of discernment. This spiritual mission makes our outward differences insignificant. Our understanding of the Truth, as it has been revealed to us through much patient waiting, leads us to affirm all members of our community and their spirit-led lives. We recognize and appreciate diversity and welcome into Meeting all who aspire towards our goal. We hope that all active participants in the life of the Meeting will consider membership, if so led.
Our understanding of the Truth further directs us to confirm the Light in all spiritual, emotional and physical relationships between individuals which are characterized by love, support, growth and sincerity and in which faith, hope, and truth abide. We understand that these relationships occur between individuals of the same and of opposite genders and that those involved may wish to formally celebrate their relationship with marriage. Durham Monthly Meeting is ready to consider a request for Marriage under its care from any individuals involved in the life of the Meeting, following the procedures described in our Marriage Document.
Through our procedures, we strive to cultivate a caring and thoughtful clearness process for all such celebrations. It is the sense of the Meeting that we move forward with this decision while recognizing that not all of us are comfortable with same gender marriage or the use of the word marriage to describe such a union. We also reaffirm our responsibility to provide continuing nurture to all relationships under the care of the Meeting.
One attender registered some reservations, but stood aside as Meeting made its decision.
Friends requested some minor revisions in the marriage document. We sould like to see stronger wording with regard to the Meeting’s help with legal issues. We sould also like a brief statement of the Meeting’s role in the event of the dissolution of a marriage. The Meeting approved the spirit and tone of the document and requested that the minor changes be brought to the next Business Meeting.
Friends further suggest that a separate document on the continuing support Meeting can offer to marriages be considered.
Notes on the minute approved on 11-14-1993:
During the Fall of 1990, the meeting held 3 forums on the topic of human sexuality:
1st: general issues,
2nd: gay & lesbian issues,
3rd: the AIDS crisis.
The State of the Meeting Report presented to Yearly Meeting in 7th month, 1991 included the following words: “Examining our beliefs concerning marriage under the care of the meeting has been a vital concern this year… There was much support for considering same sex marriages, though we have not reached consensus on this matter as yet.”
A “Brief Forum Regarding Marriage at Durham Friends Meeting” was held on June 28, 1992. Friends identified 6 issues for further discussion:
1: “Under the care of the meeting” vs. “In the manner of Friends”
2. Same-sex marriage.
4. Sexuality and marriage.
5. Clearness committee and “marriage procedure”.
6. How to balance privacy and openness.
Discussion continued during the next 16 months. Ministry and Counsel organized a series of evening Forums on each of the above topics.
The minute at the left was approved during meeting for business on 11-14-1993. And after minor changes, the “Marriage Document” describing the procedure for being married under the care of Durham Friends Meeting was approved the following month. The final wording of that document appears in the meeting Handbook under the chapter titled “Procedures of Durham Friends Meeting”.