In a controversial decision, the Episcopal House of Bishops approved a provisional policy on Tuesday to allow priests to conduct same-sex marriages. After an hour of debate, 78 percent of the voting lay members and 76 percent of clergy approved the policy. "We have authorized a blessing, and a blessing is different than a marriage," said the Episcopal Church’s media affairs representative, Nancy Davidge. "A blessing is a theological response to a monogamous, committed relationship."
The decision comes at a time for many civil victories for in gay community—including six states giving the right of marriage. Because marriage requires civil authority not given in most U.S. states, the policy is not legally binding. As expected, many disagree with the churches liberal decision, with some seeing this as a trend-based policy.
"In many ways, the church is tracking public sentiment, which is increasingly supportive of same-sex relationships," Randall Balmer, a Dartmouth University religion professor told CNN. "The Episcopal Church is merely part of that trend."