PCUSA Votes To Not Redefine Marriage
Special Report - July 9, 2012
At its annual meeting this month in Pittsburgh, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) narrowly defeated a proposal that would have changed how the church defines marriage in its constitution. After four hours of debate, the assembly voted 336 to 308 on July 6 against a recommendation to change the current definition of marriage in the Book of Order, the PC-USA constitution, from a “civil contract between a man a woman” to “a civil contract between two people.” The proposal to change the definition of marriage was submitted to the full assembly by the PC-USA’s Committee on Civil Unions and Marriage Issues, which had previously voted 28 to 24 to approve it.
While the PC-USA Assembly rejected the proposal to redefine marriage, it approved an alternative proposal that calls for two years of “serious study and discernment” about Christian marriage. Other efforts related to the definition of marriage also failed to gain approval, including a proposal to allow PC-USA elders to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies in states where marriage has been redefined to include homosexual couples, and a proposal that would have affirmed the definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman.
More Light Presbyterians, a pro-homosexual group within the PC-USA that is pushing for marriage redefinition, responded to the news by calling it a missed “historic opportunity.” In a press release, Rev. Heidi Peterson, pastor, Central Presbyterian Church, Kansas City, and Co-Moderator of More Light Presbyterians said: “Today, our church missed an opportunity to not only take a bold step towards love, but to also clarify confusion that ministers across the country are facing as more and more states expand their recognition of marriage to include same-sex couples. While we didn’t take this step forward today, I have faith that the Presbyterian Church (USA) will one day soon stand on the side of love.”
In May 2011, a majority of the PC-USA’s presbyteries, or regional bodies, voted in favor of allowing non-celibate homosexual men and women to be ordained as clergy by approving an amendment previously passed by the 2010 General Assembly. The amendment allows “persons in a same-gender relationship” to “be considered for ordination and/or installation as deacons, elders, and ministers of the Word and Sacrament within the PC (USA).”
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