Marriage Canon - Current Situation

The existing language of the marriage canon, though it is non-inclusive, does not prohibit marriage on the basis of gender. Thus, individual dioceses and bishops are free to decide if their diocese will move forward on equal marriage. For more information, check out our tab on "Equal Marriage by Diocese".

Resolution AO52-R2
Motion for Second Reading of Amendment to Canon XXI (On Marriage in the Church) from GS 2016 A051-R2

Be it resolved that this General Synod:
Give Second Reading to GS 2016 Resolution A051-R2, which reads as follows:

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. Add the following at the end of the Preface to Canon XXI:

a) Faithful members of the Anglican Church of Canada have different understandings and teachings about the nature of marriage. Some accept that the essence of marriage is between a man and a woman; others accept same sex marriage. Members are entitled to hold, teach and exercise either view provided they recognize and respect that others may with integrity hold, teach and exercise a different view. All Anglicans accept that marriage is a sign of God's redeeming purpose to unite all things in Christ. We are committed to graceful walking together in a spirit of generosity as part of the same Christian community.

b) General Synod recognizes that Indigenous communities have particular understandings about the nature of marriage as well as their own ways of making decisions—both of which are protected in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—and will continue to discern whether same sex marriage would be acceptable in their communities.

3. 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”.

4. 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.

5. Declare that this resolution shall come into effect on the first day of January after being passed by General Synod at Second Reading.

Failure of the Motion to Change the Marriage Canon

July 12th, 2019

As this motion was a change to the canons, it required a 2/3 majority (67%) in all three houses of General Synod; bishops, clergy, and lay. On July 12, 2019, after a two-hour long debate, the motion failed in the House of Bishops.

Some delegates approached the microphone and asked about potential methods by which General Synod could reconsider a vote, to which Chancellor David Jones responded. But Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz pointedly drew the night to a close.

“Friends, notwithstanding that there are more people coming to microphones, I am just so conscious of pain in this place,” the Primate said.

Acknowledging the observation of a member of synod, he noted, “Our children are crying. And many of you are crying, for a variety of reasons. So I think it’s time to adjourn. It’s time to leave this hall in silence. It’s time for you to go and do what you need to do—to cry, or to gather with delegates from your own diocese; to gather with friends, to gather in circles of prayer, just to try and be attentive to one another.

“If there are proposals for revisiting the matter, there are provisions for how to deal with that,” he added. “If there are proposals for other resolutions on the same matter, there are provisions for how to deal with that. But it needs to be at another moment in this synod.”

Church Grapples With Pain After Marriage Canon Vote

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Statement from the House of Bishops
July 15th, 2019

We, members of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, see the pain and anguish inflicted on LGBTQ2S+ people, on members of the General Synod, across the Church, and in the world, as a result of the work and the vote on the matter of Canon 21, concerning marriage. We see your tears, we hear your cries, and we weep with you. We have caused deep hurt. We are profoundly sorry.

Although the bishops are not of one mind, we look with hope to the “Word to the Church” and its affirmations which General Synod 2019 overwhelmingly approved on Friday, July 12.

We are walking together in a way which leaves room for individual dioceses and jurisdictions of our church to proceed with same-sex marriage according to their contexts and convictions, sometimes described as “local option.”

Together, we affirm the inherent right of Indigenous peoples and communities to spiritual self-determination in their discernment and decisions in all matters.

Although we as bishops are not able to agree, in the name of Jesus Christ, we commit to conduct ourselves “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).

Statement from the Prolocutor and Deputy Prolocutor
July 15th, 2020

As Prolocutor and Deputy Prolocutor we address this Synod.

On behalf of the orders of laity and clergy, we express our appreciation to the order of bishops for their message to us.

We have heard and felt and acknowledge the pain, hurt and anguish of many people in this General Synod and beyond, particularly in the LGBTQ2S+ community, their families and friends.

We celebrate the strong support of the affirmations that we adopted at this Synod, affirmations which commit this Church to inclusivity and mutual respect. We recall that the affirmations are entitled:

Indigenous Spiritual Self-determination; Diverse Understandings of the Existing Canon; Diverse Understandings and Teachings; Our Commitment to Presume Good Faith; Our Commitment to Stand Together.

We also strongly endorse the proposed actions of this Synod calling for work, in the next triennium, on our governance structures, size and composition of Synod, and planning for the future. We acknowledge that it is not only ‘what’ we do at Synod but, equally important, ‘how’ we do our work, and we confess and lament that some of the ways in which we deliberated in this session of Synod caused alienation and hurt. We look forward, therefore, to reviewing these matters before our 43rd General Synod.

We pray for God’s grace and the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit as we move forward, as we work toward living fully into these commitments.

Statement from the Clergy and Lay Delegates of General Synod
July 15th, 2019

The clergy and lay delegates of General Synod 2019 have by overwhelming majorities voted in favour of the proposed change to the marriage canon to explicitly permit same sex marriage (Resolution A52-R2) and the affirmations of “A Word to the Church” (Resolution A101-R1).  We are saddened and dismayed that the change to the marriage canon was blocked by the vote in the order of bishops, though we are heartened that a strong majority of bishops (62%) voted in favour.

Therefore we affirm:

1. The full inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ people in the life, leadership, liturgies and sacraments, including marriage, of the Anglican Church of Canada

2. That in accordance with the affirmations found in “A Word to the Church”, same sex marriage can and will proceed by local option.

3. That we regret and lament the hurt and harm that has been caused by the actions of this Synod and by our church to LGBTQ2S+ people.  We apologize, and call on our Church to end the harm.