Kitchener-Waterloo

After national vote against, Anglican Diocese of Huron intends to allow same-sex marriage

The Anglican Diocese of Huron has announced its intention to allow same-sex marriages, despite a decision made by the national church.

Bishops say they will authorize liturgies that would allow clergy to officiate same-sex unions

Bishops of the Anglican Diocese of Huron say they intend to authorize liturgies that would allow clergy to officiate same-sex marriages. (Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket/Getty Images)

The Anglican Diocese of Huron has announced its intention to allow same-sex marriages, despite a decision made by the national church.

On Monday, hundreds of delegates met in Toronto for the church's six-day General Synod, and voted on whether the Anglican Church of Canada would bless same-sex marriages. 

Although the bishops and lay delegates voted in favour of the resolution, the clergy did not, and the resolution was rejected.

'There was just shock'

"Frankly, there was just shock," said Bishop Linda Nicholls, who attended the Toronto meeting. "It had initially looked as though the motion had been carried, because the margin by which it was defeated was so small."

We had hoped to be able to walk together with the whole church and wanted to do that, but last night's vote made it clear that's not going to be possible at this time.- Bishop Linda Nicholls

​Nicholls said the decision has revealed a deep divide between those who accept same-sex marriage and those who do not, but that hasn't caused her loyalty to waver.

"We are deeply committed to the Anglican church," she said. "We believe that our church has a ... big tent. It has room for people of diverse opinions."

Although the national church voted against same-sex marriage, Nicholls said the decision did leave room for bishops to exercise their own discretion. 

Marriage still possible

Individual diocese are permitted to write their own liturgies for use at same-sex marriages, but there will be no national liturgy to be shared by all congregations.

Nicholls said she and Bishop Robert Bennett intend to write such a liturgy, which would mean members of the LGBTQ community in Waterloo region, London and Windsor could be married by an Anglican priest.

"We had hoped to be able to walk together with the whole church and wanted to do that, but last night's vote made it clear that's not going to be possible at this time," she said.

Nicholls said the decision of her diocese and others to allow same-sex marriages could cause a further divide in the national church, but hopes all sides will continue to respect and talk to one another.