The Episcopal Church in the US has moved forward in affirming its acceptance of gays and lesbians for all roles in ministry. This is despite pressure from fellow Anglicans around the world to continue a moratorium on consecrating openly gay clergy.

The Bishops voted 99-45, declaring that “God has called and may call” to ministry gays in committed lifelong relationships. In 2003, the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The move effectively ends a moratorium on ordaining gay bishops previously adopted by the Church in an effort to appease conservative Anglicans – especially those from Africa – who have threatened to split from the global body, the Anglican Communion.

“The resolution passed on Monday was written in a way that would allow dioceses to consider gay candidates to the episcopacy, but does not mandate that all dioceses do so.

A similar measure was passed on Sunday by the church’s other legislative body, the House of Deputies, which is made up of lay people and clergy. On Tuesday, the bishops’ version will likely go back to the House of Deputies for reconsideration,” the New York Times reports.

“There is no question that today’s vote in the House of Bishops was an historic move forward and a great day for all who support the full inclusion of all the baptised in the Body of Christ,” Integrity USA President Rev. Susan Russell said.

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