This happened because of a mistake in coding the electronic voting system, based on information supplied by the church, which did not record the vote of the General Secretary, the Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson. He was down as “clergy, non-voting”, whereas, in fact, the General Secretary had cast his vote in favour of the motion. He had originally thought that his vote wasn’t counted because he was mistakenly down as a lay person.
He explained yesterday:
“The events leading to the passage, at first reading, of a motion to amend the Canon on Marriage so as to provide for the solemnization in the church of same-sex marriages are complex. On July 11, the motion was declared defeated in the order of clergy, where it appeared not to have achieved the necessary two-thirds majority in that order. The actual numbers recorded electronically were 51 in favour and 26 opposed. The motion did achieve that majority among the bishops and among the laity”.
“[…] Mr. Copeland, the person supporting the electronic voting, discovered that it was in fact my own vote as General Secretary that had been overlooked in the electronic count.
[…] After a period of some consternation, the Primate in his role as president of General Synod verbally reviewed the chancellor’s new information. Based on that information, he declared that the motion had received, in all three orders, the majority required by the constitution, and that the motion had been passed”.
The resolution has changed the wording of the canon on marriage, now allowing all those who are ‘duly qualified by civil law’ to enter into marriage, rather than only ‘a man and a woman’.
The full text of the resolution is below:
General Synod 2016 Resolution
Resolution Number A051-R2
Subject: Amendment to Canon XXI (On Marriage in the Church)
Moved by: The Ven. Harry Huskins Seconded by: Ms. Cynthia Haines-Turner
Be it resolved that this General Synod:
1. Declare that Canon XXI (On Marriage in the Church) applies to all persons who are duly qualified by civil law to enter into marriage.
2. Make the following consequential amendments to Canon XXI: (a) in paragraph 2 of the Preface, delete the words “of the union of man and woman in”; (b) in paragraph 4 of the Preface, substitute the words “the parties to the marriage” for the “husband and wife”; (c) in section 16 a) of the Regulations, substitute “the parties to the marriage” for “a man and a woman”; (d) in section 17 b) of the Regulations, substitute “the parties to the marriage” for “husband and wife”.
3. Add the following to section 11 of the Regulations e) A minister may only solemnize a marriage between persons of the same sex if authorized by the diocesan bishop.
4. Declare that this resolution shall come into effect on the first day of January after being passed by General Synod at Second Reading.
Submitted By: The Commission on the Marriage Canon
Does this motion contain within it any financial implications? Yes NO
EXPLANATORY NOTE/BACKGROUND PROCEDURE FOR ADOPTION (D) In accordance with section 11(c)(i) of the Declaration of Principles, an amendment to a Canon dealing with doctrine, worship or discipline must be approved by a two-thirds majority in each Order voting a two successive sessions of General Synod.