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'Voting error' reverses same sex marriage vote in Canada

14 July 2016 | by Catholic News Service

Anglican Church of Canada overturns original No result to usher in same sex marriages

Members of the Church of Canada thought that they had voted against a proposal to allow same-sex marriages to be celebrated in the church after it was announced by officials earlier this week that the motion had not been carried.

But 24 hours later all that had changed after the Anglican church said that the discovery of a voting error meant that the actual result meant that those who voted yes to a same-sex marriage proposal had carried the day.

The announcement made July 12 came less than 24 hours after it was thought participants in the church's General Synod rejected the motion.

The Church of Canada now has three years to think about the implications of this vote, as the proposition will need to pass a second reading at the next General Synod in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2019.

Anglicans in Canada had talked about the possibility of moving toward gay marriages instead of staying with a regime in which civil same-sex unions had the possibility to be blessed by an Anglican priest, but were in no way considered to be a sacred union. In the church's 2013 General Synod, the delegates asked that a commission on the marriage canon develop a motion in favour of same-sex marriages for this July.

In order to pass, the motion needed the approval of two-thirds of all three chambers: the bishops, clergy and laity. When the results came out late July 11, the floor of the General Synod was quiet as the 234 delegates realised that the motion failed to pass by only one vote from a member of the clergy.

The Rev. Michael Thompson, synod general secretary, announced July 12: "We discovered that the electronic voting system we were using miscoded my electronic file. I was listed, and my vote was counted, as a layperson instead of a priest. This one vote changed the outcome of resolution A051-R2, the resolution to amend the marriage canon."

The debate on same-sex unions for the Anglicans in Canada has been bitter at times. On July 11, knowing the pre-vote discussions would be emotional, the church's primate, Archbishop Fred J. Hiltz, warned against bullying on both sides.

"This kind of behaviour is not appropriate. It's unacceptable," he said. "We are all the body of Christ."



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