It Wasn’t Two-Thirds, It Was More Like 80% That’s the conclusion that I’ve reached about the level of support for the First Reading of the Amendment to the Marriage Canon. As most Canadian Anglicans know, the motion required a two-thirds majority in each of the houses at General Synod – that is, the houses of the bishops, the clergy (i.e. priests and deacons elected or appointed as delegates), and the laity. Despite issues with coding for the electronic voting, the result in the end was that there was more than 2/3rds support in the laity, and a bare 2/3rds in both the houses of bishops and clergy. So the motion passed, barely.
But, as described in the previous blog post, depending on where you come from you as a member of General Synod might “represent” 67 average diocesan attendance, or 1538 in average diocesan attendance. So the 2/3rds majority is probably not an accurate representation of the support for this in the Anglican Church of Canada. Was it more or less than that, or exactly that? Unless someone crunches the numbers, we cannot know.
Now, the interesting thing is that the vote was “a recorded vote”. A recorded vote can be requested in advance of that vote upon the request of three members, and this happened. As well, a motion was passed to distribute the record of the vote prior to prorogation. So I’ve crunched the numbers – I’ve looked at that vote and matched the votes with dioceses. Here are the results, not differentiating for what house the vote was in.
|7||0||Eastern Nfld. & Lab.|
|8||0||N.S. and PEI|
A few observations on this result. First, what would have happened if a vote had been called by diocese? In the rules of General Synod when a vote by orders passes those opposed have the option to ask for a vote by dioceses. In that case the dioceses would caucus, and whatever the majority was in the diocesan caucus would count as one vote for or against. As the vote would already have had the required two-thirds majority in every house, this vote would only require a simple majority of dioceses (ties would not enter into the counting).
As you can see, if people had voted as they had the first time, there would have been no ties, and twenty votes would have been for and ten against. Even though a simple majority would have been all that was required, the further vote by dioceses would still have passed with a two thirds majority.
Of the thirty dioceses seventeen voted unanimously, five against, and twelve in favour. Thirteen of the thirty dioceses had split votes. Of these thirteen, eight were in favour, and five opposed. The only major urban diocese to vote against the motion was Calgary (unless you want to consider Fredericton a major urban diocese . . . in which case it is two).
In the previous post I noted that delegates represented wildly different numbers of people attending church. If you multiply the attendance per delegate by the votes, you get the following table (I’ve rounded off the decimals, so the math is not utterly exact, but at least your eyes won’t be bothered by endless numerals after the decimal point):
|Votes/Pop (rounded)||Yes||No||Votes/Pop: YES||Votes/Pop: NO|
|1122||7||0||Eastern Nfld. & Lab.||7852.25||0|
|940||8||0||N.S. and PEI||7527||0|
So, what is the grand conclusion here? It is that the motion to amend the Marriage Canon did not just have two-thirds of the votes in each of the three houses of General Synod, but those two-thirds majorities cumulatively represent just over four-fifths of the total attending population of the church. In other words, the vote was not only two-thirds, arguably it was also 80% in favour.
By any metric this is a very high majority. While we might wonder whether doctrine and worship should be determined by votes, for better or for worse this is the system we have in the Anglican Church of Canada. The First Reading of the Amendment of the Marriage Canon passed by a two-thirds majority in three houses representing 80% of the church, and that is a very strong mandate indeed.