US Presbyterian church says yes to same-sex marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The largest Protestant denomination in the US has voted to support same sex-marriage.

The Presbyterian Church voted this Tuesday to alter their definition of marriage to include same-sex couples for the first time.

The church, which has over 1.8 million members in more than 1,000 congregations, made the decision after decades of debate.

The move was supported by the church’s top legislative body last year, and has now secured support from a majority of the church’s 171 regional bodies.

The vote that tipped the balance came on Tuesday from the Palisades Presbytery in New Jersey.

The church’s constitution will now broaden the definition of marriage from between “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”

It now says: “Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives.”

Reverend Brian D Ellison, executive director of the Covenant, said: “Finally, the church in its constitutional documents fully recognizes that the love of gays and lesbian couples is worth celebrating in the faith community.”

Network of Presbyterians, which advocates gay inclusion in the church. “There is still disagreement, and I don’t mean to minimize that, but I think we are learning that we can disagree and still be church together.”

The change will officially take effect 21 June – but also1 explicitly includes provisions that protects the right of clergy to refuse to support same-sex weddings.

The PC (USA) has a history in recent years of liberalising reform, voting in 2011 to allow gay people in relationships to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons.