The Episcopal Church (TEC) voted on Tuesday to approve two resolutions that would allow religious weddings for same-sex couples, and to change the definition of marriage in its canon law to gender neutral language. The definition will be changed from being defined as between "a man and a woman," to "these persons," or "the couple."

Both resolutions (Resolution A054 and Resolution A036) also state that clergy still have the right under the canon law to refuse to perform any weddings that go against their conscience. The resolutions will take effect on November 1.

The resolutions were passed first by vote in the House of Bishops on June 30 at the TEC General Convention in Salt Lake City. The House of Deputies then voted on the resolution the following day of the Convention, approving the measures.

The votes in favor of the resolutions were overwhelming in the House of Deputies. 85 in the clerical order voted for and 15 voted against Resolution A036, which changed the definition of marriage, while 88 in the lay order voted for and 12 voted against the resolution. 94 in the clerical order voted for and 12 voted against Resolution A054, which allowed religious wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples, while 90 in the lay order voted for and 11 voted against the resolution. 129 in the House of Bishops voted in favor of Resolution A036, while 26 voted against it.

Reverend Susan Russell, a deputy from Los Angeles who supports same-sex marriages, told House of Deputies News that the resolutions "provide as wide a tent as possible for the historic diversity that characterizes the Episcopal Church -- guaranteeing access to marriage liturgies to all couples while protecting the conscience of clergy and bishops who dissent theologically."

Reverend Joseph Howard from Tennessee said his votes were based on what he believed the TEC's positions and leanings were in the current day. He voted for Resolution A054 because he "thought it was a statement of honesty about where the church is and that it regularized what [the TEC has] been doing," according to Espicopal News Service. However, he said he voted against A036 as "a vote against good order because I believe it assumes a belief that has not yet become clear in our church."

20 bishops in the TEC released a dissenting statement on the results of the vote, and said, "The nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage are linked to the relationship of man and woman."

"We are grateful that Resolution A054 includes provision for bishops and priests to exercise their conscience," the statement continues, "but we realize at the same time that we have entered a season in which the tensions over these difficult matters may grow. We pray for the grace to be clear about our convictions and, at the same time, to love brothers and sisters with whom we disagree."

The Episcopal Church has some 1.9 million members in the United States, and has had conversations on homosexuality since the General Convention in 1976 which said that "homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care for the church," according to the Very Reverend Brian Baker, the deputy chair of the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage.

In 2003, Bishop Gene Robinson became the first openly gay bishop, and his public announcement stirred much controversy at the time. The denomination's acceptance of gay individuals as clergy continued since then, and in 2012, the TEC also allowed transgender individuals to become members of clergy.

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