In a move that has been hailed a "victory" for supporters of Biblical marriage, the Anglican Church of Canada has voted against authorizing same-sex unions after debating the issue for nearly three years.
On Monday, the General Synod 2016 narrowly voted to uphold the Church canon's definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, rejecting Resolution A051-A1, which called for the words "union of man and woman" and "husband and wife" to be replaced by the word "partner."
The resolution would have allowed clergy to officiate same-sex marriages "if it's authorized by the diocesan bishop." Currently, some Anglican churches in Canada perform blessings for same-sex "civil unions," as gay marriage was legalized in the country back in 2005.
The South China Morning Post notes that most of the 60 speakers at the synod supported gay marriage, but the vote needed a two-thirds majority in all three houses of bishops, clergy and laity. The bishops voted 68.42 per cent in favor of the resolution, and the lay delegates voted 72.22 per cent in favour. However, the clergy voted 66.23 percent, just missing the percentage needed by a single vote.
While some speakers said rejecting the amendment would be tantamount to a "death sentence" for the church, others speakers condemned it as an "abomination" and disobedient before God, according to the Huffington Post. Another said: "God did not create another Adam, he created a woman."
René Boeré from Calgary said: "The creator made us male and female and marriage is the union of those two."
Before the vote the primate of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, said the decision made would have serious consequences: "There may be people who feel compelled to leave our Church. That's the gravity and the weight of the situation that is before us."
The General Synod is held every three years, and the vote was the culmination of work that began when the last General Synod asked a panel to come up with a draft motion, according to SCMP. If passed, the decision would have needed to be affirmed by the next General Synod in 2019, which could have made its own amendments.
The Anglican Church of Canada is the third-largest church in the country and Statistics Canada states that 1.6 million Canadians identify as Anglican.
According to its website, theme of this year's Synod is "You Are My Witnesses" which comes from Isaiah 43:10, and will run through Tuesday, July 12.