Augustana College will allow ceremonies on campus to recognize "lifelong, monogamous" gay and lesbian couples.
Augustana president Steven Bahls announced the decision on Monday in a mass email to the campus community.
"The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to which the college is related, permits same-gender weddings so long as the local congregation consents," he said in the email.
"Because Augustana is a church-related institution and not a congregation, the Bishop of our Northern Illinois Synod of the ELCA determined that it was up to me as President of the College to provide or not provide consent. I decided to consent," he said.
"When I came to Augustana 10 years ago, I wanted to give meaning to our existing assurance to students and staff that they would not be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation," he continued. "To me, it is about integrity. If we say we do not discriminate, our policies and practices should honestly reflect it."
The announcement acknowledges Illinois does not recognize same-sex marriages but the college will allow "public rites that recognize, support and hold accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships."
The content of the rites and how they are named will be left to the pastors and couples involved in the ceremonies, the email states.
The college already provides health insurance coverage to same-gender couples and openly accepts the participation of gay people in its campus ministries.
"Several of our most faithful faculty and staff, who serve our students exceptionally well, are gay or lesbian," president Bahls said in the email. "We thank God for their talents and service to Augustana."
Augustana College Chaplain Richard Priggie said the college's response was prompted by requests from two same-sex couples to use Ascension Chapel for union ceremonies. Both couples have ties to the college.
So far, those are the only same-sex couples who have requested the use of Augustana's facilities, Chaplain Priggie said. The ceremonies for both couples will be in the spring.
He said the chapel is traditionally available for Augustana students, alumni, faculty, staff and the children of faculty and staff for services.
Today is Wednesday, Aug. 20, the 232nd day of 2014. There are 133 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Quite a number of Negroes have lately been brought here by abolition offers returning from the army in violation of the laws of the state. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Miss Tillie Denkmann, of Rock Island, was making plans to accompany a Davenport family on a tour of Europe. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The German advance into Belgium was going apparently without serious check. The American ambassador at Berlin published a denial of the charge that Americans had been ill-treated in Germany. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Seventy-two members of Rock Island High School's 1939 graduating class are preparing to enter college — 34 of them at Augustana. 1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the oldest buildings in Milan, which for a number of years has housed the Milan Hotel, will be razed to make way for a modern, two-story office structure. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Some are blaming it on the sudden influx of insects and the extreme humidity. Still others say the invasion was inspired by a recent movie. But whatever the reason, the Quad-Cities is swarming with bats.