On Tuesday, the Episcopal Church approved a new policy allowing Episcopal priests to conduct same-sex blessing ceremonies.
The policy was passed at the church’s national convention held in Indianapolis. Initially approved by the House of Bishops on Monday with a 111-41 vote, it cleared the way for House of Deputies to vote, and subsequently approve it Tuesday evening.
The Episcopal Church is now the largest U.S. denomination to approve of same-sex couples, however, the service is not considered a marriage ceremony.
A media affairs representative for the church released the following statement: “We have authorized a blessing, and a blessing is different than a marriage.”
Under the new policy, each Episcopal bishop will have the ability to decide whether to allow the ceremonies in his or her local diocese.
The official liturgy for same-sex blessings has been in development since 2009 and can be used starting December 2, the first Sunday in Advent.