Anglicans discover mistake in same-sex vote; resolution passes
Published Tuesday, July 12, 2016 4:45PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 12, 2016 8:23PM EDT
A stunning reversal of a divisive vote has paved the way for the Anglican Church to perform same-sex marriages in Canada, but that won’t happen before 2019 at the earliest.
The canon change must be approved by two successive General Synods before it is official.
Chris Ambidge, a member of the Toronto chapter of Integrity Canada, a group dedicated to the full inclusion of the LGBT community in the Anglican Church, says he’s confident the church’s stance will change for good when its leaders next meet in Vancouver.
"The overall vote was more than 74 per cent pro so I'm not worried about things getting turned down a second time. But it does mean that the whole process takes at least three more years,” Ambidge told CTV News Channel Tuesday.
When the six-day annual meeting ended Monday, it appeared that a vote to allow clergy to solemnize same-sex marriages had failed by a single vote. But after questions were raised about the voting process, a recount was held.
Ambidge, who took part in the recount as an assessor, said the process was nerve-wracking.
“It was a bit nervous when you do it the first time. When you do it the fourth and fifth time and it’s the same, that’s just great," he said.
The error came when the church's general secretary, an employee who is also a priest, was mistakenly counted on his electronic voting device as laity rather than clergy, Ambidge said. Changing the same-sex marriage position required a two-thirds majority among each of the church’s laity, clergy and bishops. The clergy vote initially failed by one vote until the error was discovered by going through paper records.
Reaction to the new result, just like the debate itself, was divided.
"Same Sex marriage. In the church. In my lifetime," tweeted Lauren Bryant-Monk, of Halifax. "I'm so proud to be Anglican today."
"It is time my friends," said Bishop John Chapman of Ottawa, who vowed to proceed immediately with same-sex unions. "It is past time."
Not everyone, however, was pleased.
Northern representatives complained about feeling bullied, while Larry Robertson, Yukon bishop, left the floor earlier Tuesday in protest, saying he was angered at what he called the adversarial process.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the church, promised a pastoral letter Thursday, acknowledging the “deep differences” that exist around the issue.
"We sometimes find ourselves very much being pulled apart," Hiltz told delegates on Tuesday. "Our work on this matter is not done. It's not sufficient for us to simply say we dealt with the resolution.”
About 1.6 million Canadians identify themselves as Anglican, according to Statistics Canada, making it the third largest religious identification in the country behind the Roman Catholic Church and the United Church. Anglican Church figures indicate more than 500,000 people are part of about 2,800 congregations across the country.
With files from The Canadian Press