As it happens, Kittredge Cherry, one of the editors of this valuable liturgical compilation, suggested that it would be helpful for me to submit a review. When the book was originally published in 1995 I was unaware of its existence; however, it turns out that the previously owned copy which I just obtained via Amazon had originally been in the possession of an EXCEL retreat team. This is an interesting connection since I have in fact been participating in the EXCEL retreat ministry myself since 1992.
In any event, this book remains timely, although in the nearly 20 years since its publication, many churches have in fact become aware of the necessity to develop liturgies with special sensitivity to the LGBTQIA community. Although the book does not focus heavily on same-gender marriage or commitment ceremonies, it does offer some valuable patterns for these and other rituals.
Areas of special interest to the community for which "Equal Rites" was compiled are "Rites to Mark Spiritual Beginnings" with special emphasis on the process of "coming out"; "Rites of Healing" focused particularly on healing from AIDS and other diseases that have disproportionally affected this community; and "Funerals and Memorial Services". In the last case, the form of funeral or memorial service called "Celebration of Life" which has now become standard in many "mainline" churches was indeed often pioneered by the denominations for which this book was originally designed and whose members contributed to it.
Several of the contributors to this volume are individuals whom I know personally, and two of them, Kittredge Cherry (one of the editors) and Chris R. Glaser are authors whose books I've previously reviewed for Amazon. Again, I believe that the primary value of this compilation is in the impetus it has given to many religious groups, as well as to individuals, to become sensitized to current concerns of the LGBTQIA members of our various congregations, and to encourage creativity and innovation in preparing liturgies, whatever the context, that will address current concerns of those groups. Just as the Jewish community has continued to keep the Passover celebration alive and contemporary by emphasizing the parallels between the ancient Exodus event and present liberation struggles, so too does "Equal Rites" bring the Christian salvation event into focus in terms of present needs for equality and justice.