Lutheran Equality-Partnered Gay Clergy Might Be Accepted

Recently, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) released the final version of its social statement on human sexuality - "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust" - after an eight year process of hearings and revisions overseen by their national Church Council. 

Although it is not perfect on LGBT issues, the document recommends acceptance of partnered gay clergy with an opt-out clause for congregations.  Blessings or marriage rites for same-sex couples would also be left to congregations.

Nonetheless, opponents of LGBT equality in the ELCA worked hard to create roadblocks, attempting to change the voting rules to increase the percentages needed for final votes at the Churchwide Assembly in late August. 

According to the ECLA's standard voting rules, the social statement requires a two-thirds vote and attendant recommendations require only a majority vote to pass.  Opponents of LGBT equality submitted a recommendation to the Church Council, however, asking that a two-thirds majority be required for both the social statement and the attendant recommendations.  It was defeated, and the Church Council elected to not alter any current voting procedures.

Outlets like the Christian Science Monitor, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune and The Associated Pressreported that "recommendations" will only require a majority vote.  This is technically correct-but reporters should have stated that the whole social statement first requires a two-thirds vote before the attendant recommendations can even be considered. By only reporting that a majority vote is required, it sounds like a reduction from the two-thirds vote.

Opponents are expected to try again to change the voting percentages on the first day of the Churchwide Assembly, which occurs August 17-22, when the whole body can vote.  This change will require a two-thirds vote.

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