Presbyterians latest church to affirm marriage equality

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has become the latest church to approved marriages for same-sex couples. The Presbyterian Church, USA now holds that marriage is between “two persons” rather than “a man and a woman.” 

Last summer, the PC(USA) governing body voted by a 71% vote to change the description of marriage, from between “a man and a woman” to “two persons.” However, the amendment required 51% of the 171 regional bodies called presbyteries to affirm the change. That threshold was crossed as 86 presbyteries voted yes, as of today. The tipping point vote was cast by Palisades Presbytery in New Jersey. However, affirming votes came from more conservative presbyteries, including the Charleston-Atlantic and Foothills Presbyteries in South Carolina, James and Shenandoah Presbyteries in Virginia, Presbytery of the Pines in Louisiana, and North Alabama Presbytery. You can see a full tally, and which presbyteries are still yet to vote at the Covenant Network of Presbyterians website.

“Today, we can bring our whole selves to church,” said Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians. “Ratification is not the end; it is the continuation of ongoing sacred conversations. This is the next step in our long journey to minister to all of our people.” 

“With the positive vote on Amendment 14-F, our denomination steps forward into a new chapter – one that values our past journeys of faith, respects the importance of pastoral discretion in congregational matters, and yet offers to the world a compelling witness about how God’s grace is active in loving, mutual relationships,” said the Rev. Randy Bush, co-moderator of Covenant Network of Presbyterians and pastor of East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA.

“My hope is that queer and trans youth and others who have felt rejected by the church hear this as good news that reconciling identity and faith is more than just a possibility,” said the Rev. John Russell Stanger, executive director of Parity.

"We're of course thrilled with the outcome, but also aware of how much work we have left to do--work seeking to build bridges and keep strengthening the church," said the Rev. Brian Ellison, executive director of Covenant Network of Presbyterians.

The change aligns the church’s constitution with a reality that has long been true: Both same-gender and opposite-gender couples have been living in relationships that demonstrate love and faithfulness. Presbyteries will continue to vote on the amendment over the next few months, and the change will become effective June 21, 2015.