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 Sunday, March 9, the 68th day of 2014. There are 297 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Much damage is being done to sidewalks, shade trees, fences and gardens by hogs that are running at large about town. 1889 -- 125 years ago: H.C. Cleveland was elected air knight captain of Rock Island Division Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias. 1914 -- 100 years ago: B.W. Wilson, authority on birds and their habits, spoke at the weekly luncheon at the Rock Island Club. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The famous Dionne quintuplets have been invited to visit King George and Queen Elizabeth in Toronto on May 22, but Papa Dionne thinks their majesties should include the Callander nursery in their tour. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Ever been smothered by funny stuff? Well more than 2,600 people were last night when two boys named Tom and Dick Smothers took a "rocky, twisting road to folk music" in Davenport Masonic Temple. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Moline residents soon may be asked to recycle part of their garbage and might even get paid for it.