The Episcopal Church approved church-wide blessings of same-sex unions, stopping short of approving rites for same-sex marriage but approving liturgy for official rites for same-sex couples. Bishops can begin using "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant" on December 2, when same-sex couples can exchange vows and rings. Each bishop will decide whether to allow the rite within each local diocese, and a conscience clause bars penalties for bishops who oppose the rite.
Tuesday's debate lasted for about 90 minutes. Proponents offered stories of gay friends who would benefit from the rites, while opponents suggested the denomination was contradicting its own doctrine.
Some predicted that General Convention would not be able to legally authorize the trial rite because it would require a supermajority vote in the House of Bishops. Denominational leaders changed the wording in the resolution from "trial rite" to "provisional" rite, where a simple majority vote was needed.