Authors: By RACHEL ZOLL
Episcopal bishops have approved an official prayer that blesses same-sex unions.
Church leaders on Monday voted 111-41 in favor of the liturgy during the Episcopal General Convention in Indianapolis. The plan now goes to convention deputies for final approval.
Episcopalians blazed a trail in 2003 when they consecrated the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Robinson's election caused an uproar among fellow Anglicans and American Episcopal conservatives, and many broke away.
Episcopal opponents of the same-sex blessings are warning the rite will worsen those tensions with Anglicans overseas.
In a separate vote Monday, the full convention cleared the way for transgender ordination. Some dioceses already ordain transgendered people. Now church policy explicitly bars discrimination against them.
The New York-based Episcopal Church has nearly 2 million U.S. members.