In a move seen coming for some time, the International Anglican Communion voted to suspend the American Episcopalian Church for three (3) years. The move has been threatened for a number of years as the Episcopal Church has made itself more open to the gay community. While the Church of England, Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Church all had ordained gay priests, the issue was still divisive within most of the communion and came to a head in 1999, when the Church of England ordained an openly gay bishop. After investigation, the Archbishop of Canterbury ruled that consecration of people in same sex relationships should cease.
In July 2009, the Episcopal Church voted to reject the moratorium on consecration of gay bishops. In response, just short of a complete fissure, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared that the Episcopal Church no longer spoke on behalf of Anglicans.
In response to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which immediately legalized same sex marriages nationwide, the Episcopal Church voted in July 2015 (effective November 1, 2015), after contentious debate, to permit same sex marriage and created new rites which were gender neutral – although as a compromise priests would not be compelled to perform same sex unions.
The churches formed from association with the Church of England, which was formed by King Henry VIII when he broke with Rome when Pope Clement VII refused to grant Henry an annulment in his marriage from Catherine of Aragon.