Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, said Friday that the church's acceptance of gay marriage would not be reversed despite a penalty imposed this week by Anglican leaders.

Last year, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion overwhelmingly voted to authorize in church marriage ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

Anglican leaders on Thursday responded by stripping the Episcopal Church of its leadership role for the next three years.

“They heard from me directly that that's not something that we're considering,” Curry told the AP in a telephone conversation from England. “They basically understand we made our decision, and this is who we are, and we're committed to being a house of prayer for all.”

The issue has been brewing since the church consecrated Gene Robinson, its first openly gay bishop, in New Hampshire. In 2009, conservatives formed the Anglican Church in North America, an alternative to the U.S. denomination that does not support marriage equality.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Anglican community, also denounced anti-gay violence and discrimination during a press conference held after the meeting.

“For me, it is a constant source of deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality,” Welby said, then added that he was “sorry” for the “hurt and pain in the past and present that the church has caused and the love sometimes that we have completely failed to show.”

The Anglican Church in Canada is considering whether to follow the Episcopal Church's lead and allow same-sex marriage. A vote is scheduled to take place in July.