The Episcopal Church has given its blessing to same-sex unions.
The ruling occurred Tuesday at the Episcopal General Convention, where deputies voted 80 percent in favor of authorizing performing same-sex liturgical ceremonies—a decision binding for the next three years. The rites are not necessarily marriages but are similar, with rings, exchanges of vows and blessings by clergy.
The move marks the largest denomination in the United States to approve the liturgy ceremony for same-sex couples. The new measure will give bishops the authority to allow ceremonies in their diocese whether same-sex marriage is legal in the state or not. Those who do not want to perform the ceremony will not be penalized.
The Episcopal Church is the 14th largest religious denomination in the United States, with about 2 million members.