Voting irregularities emerge after resolution in favour of gay marriage is defeated by just one vote at general synod
A day after the Anglican Church of Canada narrowly voted not to authorise same-sex marriage, questions about the integrity of the voting process emerged, leading to a reversal of the result.
More than 200 delegates attending the six-day general synod 2016 narrowly rejected the resolution on Monday night after hearing from more than 60 speakers, most of them in favour of gay marriage.
However, on Tuesday the last day of the triennial conference some members stood up to say their ballot had not been recorded during voting late on Monday, when the resolution failed to pass by a single vote.
Delegates requested a detailed hard copy of the electronic voting records, which led to a recount. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the church then declared the resolution in favour of same-sex marriage passed, a resolution that aligns with secular Canada, which legalised same-sex marriage in 2005.
In order for the resolution to pass, it requires two-thirds support from each of three orders the lay, clergy and bishops.
Meghan Kilty, the director of communications for the Anglican Church of Canada said on Tuesday 155 delegates voted in favour of the resolution and 68 against it, with three members abstaining from the vote. The initial result was one vote short of what was needed to pass the measure in the Anglican church the third-largest in Canada.
The initial outcome on Monday night, which followed a bitter and divisive debate, stunned those on hand into silence. Some wept openly, others embraced. Some were clearly in anguish.
Before the vote recount on Tuesday afternoon, Torontos archbishop on Tuesday joined several other prominent clergymen who said they would bless same-sex marriages in defiance of the narrow vote.
The general synod is held every three years, and the vote was the culmination of work that began when the last general synod, the churchs legislative body, asked a panel to come up with a draft motion.
About 1.6 million Canadians identify themselves as Anglican, according to Statistics Canada.
The US Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the United States, is alone among Anglican bodies in approving same-sex marriage and has faced a backlash for its support. Earlier this year, Anglican leaders temporarily restricted the role of the US Episcopal Church in their global fellowship as a sanction over the American churchs acceptance of gay marriage.
Other Anglican national churches in Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand and Scotland have taken steps toward accepting same-sex relationships.