A historic moment happened earlier this week in the Civil Union and Marriage Committee at the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) when the committee approved a marriage equality amendment.
The Civil Union and Marriage Committee passed overture 13-04 to amend W-4.9001, the Directory of Worship to change the definition of marriage from a "man and a woman" to "two persons" by a vote of 28 to 24. The Directory of Worship is part of the Book of Order, the Presbyterian Church (USA) Constitution. The committee also passed legislation calling on the PCUSA to study the meaning of Christian marriage.
The amendment was presented by the Civil Union and Marriage Committee to the entire Assembly this afternoon. The General Assembly voted 308-338 to not change the Church’s definition of marriage to be inclusive of gay and lesbian couples.
Earlier this week, the Committee narrowly voted down Overture 13-05, an amendment that would have called for an Authoritative Interpretation allowing Presbyterians ministers to officiate gay and lesbian wedding ceremonies in states that have marriage equality. For now, there is no official resolution of the pastoral crisis many affirming Presbyterian ministers are experiencing in states that recognize gay and lesbian couples’ unions. The vote was 24 to 26.
In short, the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has officially voted to not uphold marriage equality within Church doctrine at this time. This decision comes shortly after huge strides for LGBT equality within the denomination. The Church recently amended policy to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian congregants. In fact, GLAAD covered the first ordination of an openly lesbian pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Katie Ricks, earlier this year.
GLAAD will continue to watch happenings at the 220th Assembly and report any LGBT-equality decisions within Church policy as they manifest. People who wish to receive quick updates are encouraged to follow MLP on Twitter, look for the Assembly’s hashtag #ga220, and look for More Light Presbyterians’ hashtag for the Assembly #ga220mlp. Or, check out MLP on Facebook and the MLP blog. Live video streaming is also available online.