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Presbyterians to vote on gay clergy, definition of marriage and divestment

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 30, 2012 | 10:11 am

It seems like every two years—so whenever the PCUSA has its General Assembly—that Presbyterians are voting on measures involving the church’s stance on homosexuality. This year, as the General Assembly begins meeting today, opposing camps within the largest Presbyterian denomination are seeking to reverse the PCUSA’s position allowing openly gay and lesbian clergy and to change the church’s definition of marriage.

Jaweed Kaleem has all the details at the Huffington Post:

The church has long grappled with homosexuality, and has rapidly made changes in recent years. The proposals on same-sex marriage come a year after the denomination approved the ordination of non-celibate gay clergy. Several churches have left the denomination since. A few presbyteries have made proposals to the Pittsburgh meeting that would overturn the gay clergy ruling.

Church observers said it’s unlikely that the meeting’s 688 voting commissioners will reverse the gay clergy ruling. They also said it’s unclear if the proposal to allow same-sex marriages will pass. Even if it does, the monumental vote would have to be approved by a majority of the church’s 173 presbyteries to be final.

“One thing that could pass is having the assembly issue an ‘authoritative interpretation’ of the constitution, which would say ... ‘It’s OK for presbyterian ministers to officiate same-sex marriage if it is legal in the state where they are officiating,’” said the Rev. Brian Ellison of Parkville Presbyterian Church near Kansas City, Mo. That option has been proposed by five presbyteries and is supported by the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, a pro-LGBT organization for which Ellison was recently tapped to become the executive director. The proposal is also more appealing to some gay rights activists because it would not change the constitution, thus bypassing any need for approval from individual presbyteries.

Presbyterians will also vote on another frequent GA resolution: divestment.

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