Bishop Chester Talton of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in California has authorized clergy to bless the relationships of same-sex couples in church as "sacred unions."
According to London's Guardian, the move from Bishop Talton breaks a ban on blessing same-sex unions, an issue that has divided the Anglican Communion, which includes the U.S. Episcopal Church. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion, has declared his opposition to blessing same-sex unions.
The directive from Bishop Talton says that clergy may bless "same-gender civil marriages, domestic partnerships and relationships which are lifelong committed relationships characterised by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect [and] careful, honest communication," reports the Guardian.
California recognizes same-sex domestic partnerships, and marriages were legal for a brief time in 2008 until voters passed Proposition 8. The authorization states that no diocesan priest may perform a same-sex marriage until allowed by church and civil law and that no clergy member is required to bless same-sex relationships.