As marriage equality becomes legally recognized around the world, we have started to include in our church directory a simple “yes/no” indicator signifying if a church performs same-gender marriages (or holy unions in those locations where it legal marriage is not available). As this information is fairly new, you may find some of the data is incomplete so please bear with us as we update our records.

When looking for a church for your wedding and/or a pastor to officiate your marriage, please keep these things in mind:

Denominational Polity: Many churches in our directory belong to denominations with rules and regulations in place (ecclesiastical “polity”), which may affect their ability to marry people of the same gender. A few “mainline” denominations, most notably the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), United Church of Christ (UCC), the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), The Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), all welcome same-gender marriage on a denominational level. It is essential to note, however, that individual church policies may differ. For example, many denominations have given official sanction to – while not making it mandatory for – any congregation’s pastor to preside over and bless marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples.

Congregational Policy: Many – if not most – churches have policies regarding who can get married. Congregational rules may include church membership requirements, pre-marital counseling, the wedding location, interfaith marriage, and more. Sometimes a congregation may be opposed to same-sex marriage (even though they are listed in our directory as LGBT-welcoming). Still, the church pastor may very open to celebrate the union of any loving couple and therefore officiate the ceremony outside the congregation’s auspices.

Local Laws: Depending on where you get married, even if the denomination or congregation allows your union, the officiant may have to follow more stringent local laws. For example, in almost 20% of the US States, the minister must be ordained and licensed in that state to perform the marriage legally. Of course, a marriage (the legal part) and a wedding (the ceremony/celebration) are two distinct entities that can happen separately, although many occur simultaneously.

We suggest that if you are searching for a minister to officiate your marriage, use our “Find an Affirming Church” feature to locate congregations near you. Check out their websites, visit the congregations and contact the pastor to learn more about each church’s policies.

For more information…