Southwestern Ontario Anglican diocese to allow same-sex marriages: Bishop

Linda Nicholls, the outgoing bishop for the Anglican Diocese of Huron, which stretches from Windsor to Manitoulin Island, tells CBC News she will allow parishes to apply to her to be allowed to perform same-sex marriages.

The outgoing bishop of the diocese made the decision to allow same-sex marriage Thursday

The Anglican Church of Canada voted down a proposal to bless same-sex marriage across the denomination, but the bishop of the Diocese of Huron says she will allow it. (Timpthy D. Easley/Canadian Press)

Priests in the Anglican Diocese of Huron, which stretches from Windsor to Manitoulin Island, will be allowed to perform same-sex marriages 

Linda Nicholls, the outgoing bishop for the diocese, made the decision yesterday, despite a vote late last week by the Anglican Church of Canada against allowing same-sex marriages as a matter of canon. 

"I felt this was a direction that the church could go," Nicholls, who was also elected to the top position within the Anglican Church of Canada, called primate, told CBC's London Morning

"I'm fully aware that there are those who don't agree (with same sex marriage), but I felt there was a need for a pastoral option for our LGBTQ parishioners."

Last week, at the Synod, a vote to allow same-sex marriage passed in two of the three groups required to make it church doctrine. Nicholls was among those to vote in favour of allowing the marriage of gay couples, but the House of Bishops narrowly voted against the option.

A number of parishes, including St. Aidan's Anglican Chuch in London, expressed disappointment in the final decision of the general church. Nicholls said, she decided an immediate local decision was needed. Initially, she had planned to let her replacement deal with the issue.

"I must say that the agonizing pain of the decision at the general synod and the response I received from many in the Diocese of Huron led me to feel that this was an appropriate time," she said. "Secondly, I did not want this issue to be the only issue on the plate as the Diocese of Huron elects its next bishop."

Starting August 1, local parishes will be able to write Nicholls explaining why they want to perform same sex marriages and she will be in a position to grant permission. 

"It's not a blanket decision but it opens up the possibility that, where the parish and the priest believe this is what they want, they can write a letter asking for permission," Nicholls said. 

"We have to walk gently by the consciences of the parishes."