Anglican Church Discovers Voting Error, Reverses Decision On Same-Sex Marriage

"I'm very happy. I'm excited, I'm relieved for the future of our church and for our young people."

On Monday, leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada voted on whether to allow same-sex marriage. The motion failed to pass by a single vote, prompting several members on Tuesday to claim their votes had not been recorded.

After a hard manual recount, marriage equality won the day.

“That is an issue of concern,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz when the issue was first raised. “We cannot leave this synod with this kind of confusion.”

After the recount Hiltz announced the resolution had passed.

TORONTO, CANADA - 2014/05/25: Inside St. James Cathedral in Toronto. This church is the home of the oldest congregation in the city and It  is a prime example of Gothic Revival architecture. The parish was established in 1797. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

“That is our reality,” Hiltz told the more than 200 delegates attending the six-day general synod. “That the motion is in fact carried in all three orders.”

About 1.6 million Canadians identify as Anglican, with some 500,000 belonging to one of the 2,800 congregations across the country.

The news of the recount felt like a miracle to some clergy members.

“I heard the news between subway stops on my way to the airport,” Rev. Allison Courey an out lesbian minister, told the CBC.

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“A text popped up on my phone that said ’It passed’ with a hundred exclamation marks.’ I’m very happy. I’m excited, I’m relieved for the future of our church and for our young people.”

Earlier in the day, Courey said, she saw young people at the General Synod breaking down in tears over the news that the Church had rejected marriage equality.

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The measure will still need to be affirmed by the next synod in 2019 before it becomes church law, but some clergy aren’t waiting that long to begin solemnizing unions.

Bishop John Chapman of Ottawa said his diocese would proceed immediately, although priesst would not be forced to officiate at such a ceremony.

Debate on the issue had gotten ugly at times, and some worry the vote will lead to a schism, as it has threatened to in the US Episcopal Church, the sole Anglican body to approve same-sex marriage.

Hiltz acknowledged “our work on this matter is not done.”

“It’s not sufficient for us to simply say we dealt with the resolution,” he added.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery