Delegates to its triennial convention voted 171-50 to approve the liturgy, titled "the Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong covenant." Episcopal bishops had voted overwhelmingly on Monday in favor of the text. The U.S. Episcopal Church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is the 14th largest U.S. religious denomination, with about 2 million members, according to the National Council of Churches.
The proposed blessing will be introduced in early December and will be evaluated over the next three years, according to a church spokeswoman, Nancy Davidge.
The resolution does not mention the word "marriage" and it does not alter the church's standard liturgy for a marriage between a man and a woman, but offers an alternative liturgy for blessing same-sex couples.
The measure also gives bishops of the church discretion in the use of the liturgy and says no one should be punished for choosing not to use it.
Reverend Bonnie Perry of Chicago, who supports marriage between same-sex couples, said she was pleased by the decision. "For me it is a window on the Promised Land. It's not the Promised Land," she said. "The most important part of a marriage is the blessing