In the words of the Los Angeles Times, the Episcopal Church cast "aside warnings about further alienating conservatives within its ranks" and voted Tuesday to end a three year moratorium on ordaining gay and lesbian bishops. Furthermore, this now allows them to further weigh into a measure of sanctioning blessings on same-sex couples. Voting on this measure is expected today.
The measure to consecrate gay bishops won the support of more than two-thirds of the denomination's two legislative houses - the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, composed of clergy and laity.
The Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the 77-million member Anglican Communion and which has a long history of striving to keep from splintering, has already faced conservative branches breaking off. Now with the vote, a backlash is expected.
"Clearly the activists have done a good job promoting their agenda," said the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns to the Los Angeles Times, a founding bishop of the newly formed Anglican Church in North America, which hopes to gain recognition from the Anglican Communion as a rival province to the Episcopal Church.
"The generosity shown by the rest of the communion has been astonishing and has been thrown back in their face," Minns said. "There will have to be a renegotiation of how the Episcopal Church fits into the family."
Openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the only gay bishop consecrated by the Episcopal Church, holds a different view.
"I'm simply delighted at the possibility that another diocese will recognize the gifts of a gay or lesbian clergy person," he said. "I long for the day when someone who shares my experience as an openly gay bishop joins me in the House of Bishops. It has been lonely."
The passed measure states "God has called" gays and lesbians in partnered relationships to "any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church," adding that the call "is a mystery which the church attempts to discern for all people."
Rev. Irene Moore has a very interesting piece on the deep history behind the vote at Bilerico Project, titled "Let the Episcopal Church say Amen."