• Presbyterian Church (USA) Officially Endorses Gay Marriage

    A branch of the Presbyterian Church officially endorsed gay marriage Tuesday, following decades of debate over its position on the issue.

    A majority of the 171 regional bodies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to change the definition of marriage in the church’s constitution from being between “a man and a woman” to being between “two people, traditionally a man and a woman,” reported The New York Times.

    So far members have approved the change by about a 2:1 margin, with 86 voting in favor and 41 against. The vote follows a recommendation last year by the church’s General Assembly to broaden the definition.

    “Finally, the church in its constitutional documents fully recognizes that the love of gays and lesbian couples is worth celebrating in the faith community,” Rev. Brian Ellison, an advocate for gay inclusion in the church, told The New York Times. “There is still disagreement, and I don’t mean to minimize that, but I think we are learning that we can disagree and still be church together.”

    The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is the largest branch of the Presbyterian denomination, with about 1.8 million members, but churches and individuals have been splitting off in recent years as it grows increasingly liberal in its theology.

    In 2011 the group of churches agreed to allow gays and lesbians to be pastors, elders and deacons.

    “Our objection to the passage of the marriage amendment is in no way, shape or form anti-gay,” Paul Detterman, national director of The Fellowship Community, which has chosen to stay despite its disagreement, told The New York Times. “It is in no way intended as anything but concern that the church is capitulating to the culture and is misrepresenting the message of scripture.”

    He and his group are staying in the church because they want to remain part of the conversation. But he added: “We definitely will see another wave, a sizable wave, of conservative folks leaving.”

    The Episcopal church and the United Church of Christ have also endorsed gay marriage.

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