Anglican Communion suspends US Episcopal church over same-sex marriage

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The vote by archbishops meeting in Canterbury, England, essentially directs Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to relegate almost 2 million American Episcopalians to non-voting "observer" status within their own communion.

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Under the terms of the resolution, American Episcopalians and leaders will be stripped of their votes at Anglican conferences and assemblies, won't be allowed to participate in decision-making "on issues of doctrine or polity" and can't officially represent the Anglican Communion on interfaith commissions.

The action isn't anywhere near as severe as expulsion or excommunication. But the Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the U.S. church, said it does cause "real pain" for American Episcopalians.

"For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain," Curry said in a statement distributed through the church's Episcopal News Service.

See Episcopalians in the US celebrate gay marriage:

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Anglican Communion suspends US Episcopal church over same-sex marriage
The Rev. Cynthia Black, left, and the Rev. Bonnie Perry, right, hug after Episcopalians overwhelmingly voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The vote came in Salt Lake City at the Episcopal General Convention, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The Rev. Michael Briggs, left, and the Rev. Ken Malcolm, right, hug as they walk after Episcopalians overwhelmingly voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The vote came in Salt Lake City at the Episcopal General Convention, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The Rev. Jane Johnson, center left, hugs her daughter Meghan Johnson after Episcopalians voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The vote came in Salt Lake City at the denominations national assembly. The measure passed by an overwhelming margin in the House of Deputies, the voting body of clergy and lay people at the meeting. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The Rev. Cynthia Black, right, and the Rev. Bonnie Perry, left, hug after Episcopalians voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The vote came in Salt Lake City at the denominations national assembly. The measure passed by an overwhelming margin in the House of Deputies, the voting body of clergy and lay people at the meeting. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The Rev. Cynthia Black, left, and her spouse Becky Walker speak with a reporter after Episcopalians voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The vote came in Salt Lake City at the denominations national assembly. The measure passed by an overwhelming margin in the House of Deputies, the voting body of clergy and lay people at the meeting. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The Rev. Cynthia Black, left, and the Rev. Bonnie Perry, right, hug after Episcopalians overwhelmingly voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The vote came in Salt Lake City at the Episcopal General Convention, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The Very Rev. Jose Luis Mendoza-Barahona, of Honduras, speaks before Episcopalians overwhelmingly voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The vote came in Salt Lake City at the Episcopal General Convention, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Deputies leave the hall after Episcopalians overwhelmingly voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The vote came in Salt Lake City at the Episcopal General Convention, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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"For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope," Curry said. "And this will add pain on top of pain."

The U.S. branch of the church has been at odds with the parent communion ever since it elected the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003. Robinson couldn't immediately be reached for comment, but he said Thursday on Twitter that Curry "speaks for me."

The tension grew exponentially after the U.S. church voted last summer to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

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