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Duke to allow gay unions in campus chapelcomment (0)

January 4, 2001

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University has decided to allow same-sex unions in its chapel, even though its historic church sponsor, the United Methodist Church, officially prohibits such ceremonies.

The decision by Duke President Nannerl O. Keohane and Chapel Dean William H. Willimon comes after three months of discussion on the Durham, N.C., campus between the chapel, administration and campus religious groups.

The university had prohibited same-sex unions because the United Methodist Church has said that “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.” Keohane and Willimon noted that the chapel is university property and does not belong to the church.

"It is not, in our opinion, a matter of the chapel approving or disapproving of this liturgical innovation, but rather a question of how much religious diversity we should accommodate,” Keohane and Willimon wrote in a letter.

The chapel will be available for union ceremonies for university staff, alumni, students, faculty and their adult children.

All the rules and fees for heterosexual marriages will still apply, and clergy who do not agree with same-sex unions will not be forced to officiate.

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