Following a controversial voting glitch, the Anglican Church of Canada has within a day rejected and then affirmed same-sex marriage.
On Monday, over 200 delegates narrowly voted at the General Synod in Toronto against a resolution, by one vote, which would have allowed same-sex marriage in the church.
The next day, concerns were raised that some of the votes had not been counted correctly.
A voting irregularity was then identified, leading to a recount and the stunning announcement that sufficient delegates had in fact voted for the resolution.
For the resolution to pass, the vote required a two-thirds majority within each category of delegates; lay people, clergy and bishops.
“Today we discovered that the electronic voting system we were using miscoded my electronic file,” said General Secretary Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson in a statement.
“I was listed, and my vote was counted, as a lay person instead of a priest. This one vote changed the outcome of resolution A051-R2—the resolution to amend the marriage canon.”
The resolution will not be officially adopted for another three years. Because it is a “canonical” change, it will be voted on for a final time at the next General Synod in 2019.
Rev. Allison Courey of Winnipeg told CBC Radio that she welcomed the news. “I’m very happy, I’m excited, I’m relieved for the future of our church and for our young people,” she commented.
“It might mean that we actually can’t move ahead with same-sex marriages right away, while we wait to have a second vote at our next Synod, but it does mean that this is becoming a reality and a norm in our church. And it means that I belong.”
Courey added: “I think it says we’re prepared to engage with the 21st century.”
The Anglican Church is the third largest church in Canada. Civil same-sex marriage has been legal nationwide since 2005.