Resolution C003


Subject: Preparation of motion to change Canon XXI on Marriage; Direction to COGS

Moved by: Ms. Michelle Bull, Diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI

Seconded by: Ms. Jennifer Warren, Diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI

Be it resolved that this General Synod

direct the Council of General Synod to prepare and present a motion at General Synod 2016 to change Canon XXI on Marriage to allow the marriage of same sex couples in the same way as opposite sex couples, and that this motion should include a conscience clause so that no member of the clergy, bishop, congregation or diocese should be constrained to participate in or authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.

This motion will also include supporting documentation that:

a) demonstrates broad consultation in its preparation;

b) explains how this motion does not contravene the Solemn Declaration;

c) confirms immunity under civil law and the Human Rights Code for those bishops, dioceses and priests who refuse to participate in or authorize the marriage of same-sex couples on the basis of conscience; and

d) provides a biblical and theological rationale for this change in teaching on the nature of Christian marriage.

Source: Member

Submitted by: Ms. Michelle Bull, Diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI

Does this motion contain within it any financial implications? Yes    No   X

If yes, has the General Synod Expenditures Committee considered the implications?    Yes   No


It has been 6 years since General synod last debated this issue. Since then, some dioceses have proceeded in a manner they deemed necessary to meet the local pastoral and other needs with respect to the blessing of same sex civil marriages. It has been over 10 years since such civil marriages were legal in Canada. The general public has become much more accepting of same sex unions since we last discussed it. This is also true of the church, though not, of course, universally so.

It seems like a good idea to ask COGS to draft this motion, so that it will be done correctly and with the benefit of appropriate legal and theological advice as to wording, so that the motion will do all and only what we wish it to.

We believe that it is necessary that there be a conscience clause so that anyone who is not in favour of same sex marriages will not be constrained to participate in them. It is not our intention to force everyone to conform in this matter, but only to allow those who wish to allow same sex marriage in the church to go ahead.


In the normal course, an ordinary motion must be passed by a majority of the Order of Bishops, and by a majority of the Orders of Clergy and Laity voting together.

Six members of General Synod may, prior to the question being put, require a vote by Orders, with a majority of each Order being necessary to pass.

If a question passes on a Vote by Orders, any six members (two from each of three different dioceses) may require a vote to be taken by dioceses. A motion passes if a majority of dioceses (or a tie) vote in favour.

Source: Section 5 of the Declaration of Principles and sections 18, 19 and 20 of the Rules of Order and Procedure

Note: If Resolution A030 is given second reading, the required majority will be all Orders voting together.