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Presbyterian Church Votes to Allow Clergy to Perform Gay Marriages

The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted Thursday to allow clergy to perform same-sex weddings within the church, making it one of the largest Christian denominations to do so.

PresbyterianReligion News Service reports:

By a 76-24 percent vote, the General Assembly of the 1.8 million-member PCUSA voted to allow pastors to perform gay marriages in states where they are legal. Delegates, meeting in Detroit this week, also approved new language about marriage in the church’s Book of Order, or constitution, altering references to “a man and woman” to “two persons.”

This change will not become church law until a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries vote to ratify the new language. But given the lopsided 3-1 ratio of the vote, approval is expected.

Gay rights activists within the church rejoiced at their victory, which was remarkable for its margin of victory after multiple years of razor-thin defeats.

“This vote is an answer to many prayers for the church to recognize love between committed same-sex couples,” said Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a group that has led the fight for gay marriage within the church.

Conservative Presbyterians opposed to the change sent out a statement urging congregations to launch a financial boycott out of protest.

“God will not be mocked,” the statement continued, “and those who substitute their own felt desires for God’s unchangeable Truth will not be found guiltless before a holy God.”

A similar resolution allowing gay marriage failed 338-308 during the 2012 General Assembly. The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Church of Christ all allow same-sex marriage.   

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  1. "those who substitute their own felt desires for God’s unchangeable Truth will not be found guiltless before a holy God.”

    Conservative Presbyterians could use that same type of language to argue that faithful Presbyterians should not be allowed to divorce because of Bible teaching. But they don't because they are hypocrites.

    Posted by: Kenneth | Jun 19, 2014 8:25:53 PM


  2. "The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Church of Christ all allow same-sex marriage."

    As do Friends (Quakers), Unitarian Universalists, and also Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Jews.

    Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Jun 19, 2014 8:29:30 PM


  3. good news. now let's see 1st amendment challenges (in addition to the 14th) to marriage equality state bans around the country for abridging their freedom of religion.

    Posted by: jed | Jun 19, 2014 9:13:40 PM


  4. I stand by my argument that any church which wants to perform legal ceremonies - that is to say, a ceremony which would perfect a marriage license issued by a state - then that church should be required to perform ceremonies for any marriage legal in the state. If they decline, they should lose the privilege. Without this privilege, they would be free to perform whatever ceremonies that they want for whomever they choose, but it would have no legal consequence. Why do we allow churches to make decisions about who is allowed to get married??? Marriage is law, it is not religion; if it ever was religious, it ceased to be the minute that states began licensing it.

    Posted by: Oxnard Rick | Jun 19, 2014 9:18:42 PM


  5. Doing this after 20 states have marriage equality, after the US Supreme Court has issued two rulings affirming same-sex marriage in some way (Windsor, and Perry), and thousands of same-sex couples have gotten married, is, well, neither cutting edge or prophetic. Actually, I predict a majority of the regional presbyteries will reject it over the next year. The presbyteries tend to be more conservative than the General Assembly.

    Posted by: jpeckjr | Jun 19, 2014 10:57:27 PM


  6. @Jed. The United Church of Christ has filed just such a lawsuit in North Carolina.

    Posted by: jpeckjr | Jun 19, 2014 10:58:02 PM


  7. JPECKJR..I'm not sure I would unleash the glitter unicorn quite yet. Granted, we are a current hot topic, and there are some important forces pointed our way. But a 40% success rate is far from a slam dunk. All the bits and pieces add up, but even ERA, the equal rights for women (51% of the population) act has not been ratified in a majority of the states in over 40 years of assertive effort. As for the Supremes... Utah has not been ruled on yet, and could eviscerate many of the other lower court judicial rulings. Apathetic progressive turnout at the polls (stll hovering around 50/50) could welcome a new regime eager to help that remaining 60% rekey the deadbolt on your own closet door. Enjoy the view from the top of the dung pile, but don't mistake it for the top of the mountain.

    Posted by: dixichuk | Jun 20, 2014 9:09:00 AM


  8. 1) "By a 76-24 percent vote, the General Assembly of the 1.8 million-member PCUSA voted to allow pastors to perform gay marriages in states where they are legal."

    2) "A similar resolution allowing gay marriage failed 338-308 during the 2012 General Assembly."

    What do the different vote totals mean--100 votes cast in 2014, versus nearly 650 in 2012? Are these different bodies voting? What is the significance?

    Posted by: I Count! | Jun 20, 2014 1:27:02 PM


  9. JPECKJR, just accept "yes" as an answer. Or would you rather that the PCUSA disallow gay marriage?

    Posted by: Sam | Jun 20, 2014 5:20:49 PM


  10. JPECKJR, just accept "yes" as an answer. Or would you rather that the PCUSA disallow gay marriage?

    Posted by: Sam | Jun 20, 2014 5:21:11 PM


  11. JPECKJR, just accept "yes" as an answer. Or would you rather that the PCUSA disallow gay marriage?

    Posted by: Sam | Jun 20, 2014 5:21:43 PM


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