Lutherans, the very first Protestant tradition, founded in the 1500’s, voted to lift the ban on partnered gay clergy on Friday, August 21, 2009. The week of deliberations included a tornado that damaged the convention center in Minneapolis and extensive debate, prayers and conversation.
Meeting August 17-23, the body considered a range of legislation affecting the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. On LGBT issues, the results were historic. At three critical points, delegates chose the next step toward full inclusion.
They rejected attempts by conservatives to change the voting rules on the opening night; they passed the Policy Statement on Human Sexuality with a 2/3 vote; and, finally, delegates withstood legislative end runs and voted to allow clergy to be in committed same-gender relationships.
Emily Eastwood, Executive Director of Lutherans Concerned/North America, said “Today I am proud to be a Lutheran. Supporters and advocates of full inclusion have longed for this day since the inception of the ELCA, and for many of us what seemed like a lifetime. The ELCA has always had gay ministers, now those and all ministers are free to claim who they are and to have the love and support of a lifelong partner, regardless of orientation or gender identity, which is all we ever asked.”
The ELCA is the second largest mainline Protestant church in the U.S. with 4.6 million members and now joins the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ as mainline denominations that have moved toward full inclusion in recent years.
GLAAD assisted the LGBT and allied Lutheran spokespeople by pitching the story through the 1800 religion media journalists and outlets of the Religion News Service. GLAAD trained spokespeople were interviewed by the NY Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, LA Times, NPR, Minnesota Public Radio, local radio talk shows and others. Multiple AP articles blanketed the country and repeatedly quoted GLAAD trained Lutheran spokespeople.