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Episcopal church gives blessing to same sex unions

The ruling occured 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.

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The Episcopalian church approves blessing of same sex unions, the largest denomination to do so in the United States. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Episcopal Church has given its blessing to same sex unions.

The ruling occured 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 the clergy, said the Associated Press.

The move marks the largest denomination in the United States to approve the liturgy ceremony for same sex couples.

The new measure will allow bishops to allow ceremonies in their diocese whether same sex marriage is legal in the state or not, reported the New York Times.

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Those who do not want to perform the ceremony will not be penalized.

The Episcopalian church has a history of progressive stances towards homosexuality and women in the church.

In 2003, the church, in a controversial move, consecrated New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church of which the Episcopal church is a part.

The Episcopal church is the 14th largest religious denomination in the United States, with about 2 million members, reported Reuters.

Despite the move, Episcopal church law and Book of Common Prayer continue to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120711/episcopal-church-gives-blessing-same-sex-unions