Presbyterians (PC-USA) vote to include same-sex marriage in constitution (sort of)

Presbyterians (PC-USA) vote to include same-sex marriage in constitution (sort of)

[Ed. – You had to know this wasn’t as categorical and definitive as the NYT headline implies.  Emphasis added.  To be continued…]

DETROIT — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted at its General Assembly on Thursday to change its constitution’s definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people,” and to allow its ministers to perform same-sex marriages where it is legal.

Both measures, passed by large majorities, are a reversal for a church that in 1991 and in 2008 barred its pastors from performing same-sex marriages, and that has held ecclesiastical trials for ministers who violated the ban and blessed gay couples. …

The convention hall fell silent as the vote counts were announced, in deference to a plea by the church’s moderator, leading the session, to be respectful of the divide.

“There were some of us with tears of joy, and some of us with tears of grief,” said the Rev. Susan De George, stated clerk of the Hudson River Presbytery, in New York, a lesbian minister who years ago was among those brought up on charges for blessing same-sex unions. “After the vote, the first thing I did was to text a friend on the other side of the issue.” …

The vote giving discretion to ministers to marry gay couples takes effect on Sunday, at the close of the General Assembly.

But changing the definition of marriage in the church’s Book of Order would still require ratification by a majority of the church’s 172 regions, or presbyteries — a yearlong process. At the assembly in Detroit, the measure passed overwhelmingly — 71 percent to 29 percent — but only after an amendment that altered the language of the change from “two people” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman,” a nod to conservatives who would otherwise have voted against it.

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