The blessing of same-sex married couples may now be able to occur in Wangaratta after the Anglican Church of Australia's appellate tribunal handed down its opinion that the move is consistent with its constitution.
The Wangaratta diocese made history last year when it voted to allow the blessings, but after challenges - most vocally from Sydney - the decision was referred to the appellate tribunal.
While the tribunal only hands down an opinion, rather than a ruling, it did provide support for the diocese with a 4-1 vote from its members on Wednesday.
"It was the trigger for the changes to the Marriage Act that has challenged the ACA to consider its own responses to an evolving social and legal environment within the Australian society where the church exercises its mission," tribunal president Keith Mason QC said in the opinion.
Much of the opinion referenced other changes in marriage within the church over many decades.
Mr Mason said that while some would be offended by opinion, same-sex marriages recognised under Australian law were capable of meeting scriptural teachings.
"The contending views about blessing same-sex marriages are strongly held," he said.
"But, with respect to some of the recent rhetoric, and the actions taken abroad by some bishops of this church, the blessing of same-sex marriages does not necessarily involve denial of God."
The Wangaratta regulations would allow blessings for people who are married outside the church, including same-sex couples like John Davis and Rob Whalley - two priests who have been in a relationship for 20 years.
They still hope to be the first same-sex couple blessed in the Anglican Church.
Opponents of the blessings have called for Wangaratta to hold off conducting the blessings until the Anglican's general synod can meet, possibly next year, and make a definitive ruling.
Former Wangaratta Bishop John Parkes led the creation of Wangaratta's blessing regulations before retiring in December last year.
His successor Bishop Clarence Bester said yesterday he wanted to speak to the diocese's legal team, leadership team and Bishop-In-Council, plus take part in a discussion in the Anglican Church's House of Bishops today, before making any comment.
Father Peter Macleod-Miller from St Matthew's Albury welcomed the appellate tribunal's opinion, saying the battle for equality had already been won across the world, but "after the community has given the lead, it's given the church permission to think differently".
He said the heroes were those who fought for marriage equality and allowed their relationships to be put under the microscope.
"That is all about love and acceptance and compassion," he said. "I think it signifies a positive change in that environment."