IEAB votes to ammend its canons, allow same-sex marriage

This is a historical moment for the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. Today, it voted in favor of amending its marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage by a large majority of votes – 57 in favor,  3 against and 2 abstentions. This is the third time the matter was brought into consideration at a General Synod.

The "yes" vote won by an overwhelming margin

Canonical changes were approved in an environment filled by the Holy Spirit and with mutual love and respect. It was preceeded by long, deep and spiritual dialogue. This dialogue formally started in 1997, but had been going on much earlier, and  reached the whole province since then through indabas, conferences, consultations, prayers, biblical and theological publications.

The Anglican Service for Diaconia and Development – SADD and Centre for Anglican Studies – CEA were commissioned by the Synod in 2013 to deepen dialogue among dioceses of the Province. It is worth noticing that same-sex civil marriage is legal in Brazil since 2012.

We were visited by international guests such as the Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Rt. Rev. Linda Nichols from Huron Diocese in Canada, among others. They shared with Synod their experience on the matter and led us into prayer.

We affirm our commitment with the Gospel of Jesus and our belonging to the Anglican Global Family. We also hope to keep walking together with those who disagree with us as we discern how to better respond to the challenges ahead of us in our contexts.
“I felt the decision was a result of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work. This widens our boundaries,  allowing us to be more welcoming to the diversity of people in our country”, said the Primate of Brazil, the Most Rev. Francisco de Assis da Silva.

“As a member of the LGBT community, I followed this debate since its inception, first as a lay person and then as a clergy person. I personally felt discrimination and persecution when I first came out in the Diocese of Recife, and saw colleagues facing similar struggles. Some people left the Church, others lost faith in the Church as an institution. When I was chosen Provincial Secretary in 2011, the Church was aware of my sexual orientation and the fact I was in a civil union with Dr. David Morales. It was not an impediment to such crucial position. In 2016, we have had an extraordinary synod in order to discuss our canons as a whole. The discussion on Holy Matrimony was very challenging because it invited the church to speak out about this theme more openly. It allowed dioceses to engage in further discussion on a topic that had not been fully debated in some circles until then. I feel proud to witness this historic day for the Church of Brazil, which is also the day we celebrate IEAB’s 128th anniversary. We stand as a lighthouse at a time this country (and the world) faces so many difficulties, such as religious fundamentalism and intolerance. I finish my term as provincial secretary feeling completely overwhelmed.”

Rev. Arthur Cavalcante and Dr. David Morales

Liturgical changes will not be needed, the 2015 Book of Common Prayer’s marriage rite is gender neutral and should be used for any solemnization of marriage, regardless of gender.