'The darkness has turned into light': Anglican church to permit same sex marriage

After an earlier announcement appeared to dampen the hopes of many in the Hamilton area LGBTQ community, the national assembly of Anglicans has voted to endorse blessing of same sex marriage.
Hamilton's Christ's Church Cathedral is one of the churches under Bishop Michael Bird's purview that will be able to administer marriage ceremonies to couples of the same gender. (Christ's Church Cathedral)

After an earlier announcement appeared to dampen the hopes of many in the Hamilton-area LGBTQ community, the national assembly of Anglicans has voted to endorse blessing of same sex marriage.

This came after an announcement on Monday to the contrary, that said the church narrowly voted down that resolution. 

"[A] voting error reveals that the General Secretary's vote was not counted as clergy. There was, in fact, a 2/3 clergy majority," the Anglican Church of Canada tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Hamilton community leader Deirdre Pike praised the decision. "The darkness has turned into light — it's the perfect analogy from the Christian point of view," she said.

Pike, who has been a Catholic since age 16, married Renee Wetselaar in 2013 at Christ's Church Cathedral, an Anglican church on James Street North.

"This is the direction society has to go in general," she said.

On Tuesday, several bishops said they planned to go ahead with same-sex marriages regardless of the vote. In a series of statements, they expressed dismay at the defeat, before the vote was recounted.

The Anglican Diocese of Niagara — which includes Hamilton — said earlier in the day it was breaking with the official position of the national church and would follow an "inclusive" position on same-sex marriage.

With the switch at the national level, now that won't be necessary.

"For the Anglican church of Canada to be a leader in this direction ... it's a really great opportunity for people in the LGBTQ community who are people of faith to celebrate," Pike said.

To pass, the church resolution required two-thirds of each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops. The clergy failed to reach that threshold by one vote that was apparently not counted because it was counted in the lay order.

The error was discovered after delegates requested a detailed hard copy of the electronic voting records.

The resolution still needs affirmation by the next synod in 2019 before it becomes church law.

While some fretted that the failure of the resolution would cause a rupture in the church and spark an exodus of members, others said they believed the church would hold together despite the bruising nature of the debate in which some used terms such as "abomination" in reference to the LBGTQ community.

Pike told CBC News that the people who voted no to the vote will no doubt weigh on the church. "They still have to face the fact that some of the people in the pews of these parishes will be walking away," she said.

"But for right now, I'm just happily astounded."

With files from the Canadian Press