It was a victory for same-sex marriage today, as the Presbyterian Church in the US voted to change its constitutions definition of marriage. The general assembly voted to change the definition from “a man and a woman” to “two people,” allowing ministers to perform a marriage ceremony anywhere that same sex marriage is legal.
In 1991 and again in 2008, the church barred pastors from performing ceremonies, and there has been much backlash for those ministers that disobeyed the beliefs of the Presbyterian church. Today by a large majority that was reversed and come Sunday gay couples may be married by ministers willing to perform the marriage ceremony.
The process of completely changing the definition in the church’s Book of Order is, however one that can take up to a year, and would have to be approved by the 172 regions of the church. The Vote was approved and received with overwhelming support with a 71 percent to 29 percent. Observers and participants that have been pushing for gay rights and equality were in high spirits at the decision.
Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians said, “this has felt completely different”, “There is such a sense of growth and mutual respect across the theological spectrum.” McNeill is also part of a group advocating gay equality in the church
This decision did deeply pain those in the conservative wing of the Presbyterian Church, who have warned that worshipers that have been on the verge of departure would leave in light of this decision.
Reverend Steve Wilkins, who represents the New Harmony Presbytery in South Carolina, said “I don’t think it’s up to us to change the definition of marriage; in fact marriage has been defined by us and revealed to us in God’s word.”
Since 2010 350 of the Presbyterian congregations have left. This at the time was due largely in part with the assembly voting to ordain openly gay clergy members. It isn’t clear how this latest vote will affect affect the Presbyterian church, however it is a victory for gay rights.