FaithWorld

U.S. Presbyterian Church approves clergy performing gay weddings

By Reuters Staff
June 20, 2014
(Gay couple Andrew Wale (R) and Neil Allard hold hold each other as they are interviewed by the media after marrying in the first same-sex wedding at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, southern England March 29, 2014. Saturday will be the first day gay couples will be allowed to tie the knot in England and Wales after the government legalised same-sex marriage last July. Wale and Allard are the first out of five same-sex couples tying the knot in Brighton on Saturday. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor )

(A gay couple after marrying in the first same-sex wedding at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, southern England March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor )

A gathering of U.S. Presbyterian Church elders and ministers voted on Thursday to allow their clergy to perform same-sex weddings, in a major reversal for one of the largest mainline Protestant denominations, a church official said.

The move came during a meeting in Detroit, two years after the Church’s highest judicial body upheld an ecclesiastical rebuke against a lesbian Presbyterian minister for officiating at same-sex weddings in California.

A number of Christian denominations have grappled in recent years with how to address the wishes of gay and lesbian couples to marry, which is now legal in 19 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The Presbyterian Church in 2011 removed its prohibitions on openly gay clergy and has a long tradition of baptizing children of same-sex couples.

The vote by a group of Church elders and ministers to allow clergy to solemnize gay weddings was 371 in favor and 238 opposed, said Gradye Parsons, clerk of the Church’s General Assembly.

The new rules, which take effect on Saturday, give clergy the choice of whether to preside over same-sex marriages in states where gay nuptials are legally recognized, while providing local church councils discretion over whether to host such ceremonies, Parsons said.

Read the full story by Jonathan Kaminsky here.

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