One More Major Religion Has Approved Gay Marriage

Mar 18, 2015 at 3:01 PM ET

It’s official: the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to amend its constitution this week, broadening their definition of marriage to include same-sex unions.

The 1.8 million-member church is the second of the four mainline Protestant churches to approve same-sex unions. The other is the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which in 2009 agreed to let its clergy perform same-sex ceremonies—again, at their discretion. Congregations of the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church—the other mainline Protestant organizations—still do not allow official unions, though the former recognizes unofficial partnerships (see the Pew Research chart below).

Tuesday’s vote was more of a formality, as the Presbyterian church’s General Assembly had already voted to allow its clergy perform same-sex marriage ceremonies at their own discretion. Under the new constitutional rule, clergy will retain this option.

Rev. Brian D. Ellison, executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, praised the move to the New York Times. “Finally, the church in its constitutional documents fully recognizes that the love of gays and lesbian couples is worth celebrating in the faith community.”

The Presbyterian Church stands at the far end of the spectrum from the likes of the Church Of Latter-Day Saints (6.4 million American Mormons and counting) and the 15 million-strong Southern Baptist Conference–which issued its incredibly forthright resolution against same-sex marriage in 2003.

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Largest Presbyterian Denomination Gives Final Approval for Same-Sex Marriage” (New York Times)
Where Christian churches, other religions stand on gay marriage” (Pew Research)