This year, at the Presbyterian General Assembly, LGBTQ people & allies of the upcoming generation will claim their birthright at members of a just & inclusive church.

27 June 2008

Breaking News: Presbyterians Deny Recognition of Same-Gender Marriages

Presbyterians Deny Recognition of Same-Gender Marriages

SAN JOSE—The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) voted Friday evening to deny a change of language that would recognize marriage as a covenant between “two people” instead of “a man and a woman.”

The vote differed 540 to 161, with three abstentions. However, Youth Advisory Delegates, Theological Student Advisory Delegates, and Missionary Advisory Delegates were split nearly evenly on the issue.

The overture, originally presented by the Baltimore Presbytery, asked for the denomination to send the proposed amendments to the presbyteries for their affirmative or negative response. The Baltimore Presbytery reasoned that "in our churches and communities same gender couples are living together in loving, committed, monogamous relationships. They are raising children, caring for aging parents, and making positive contributions to their communities. These couples include new and long-time members of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Their relationships are equivalent to a marriage in every way but formal recognition by the church and by most states in which they live, though some states are recognizing their relationships as marriages or civil unions."

Since 1991, the PCUSA has worked under an 'Authoritative Interpretation' that distinguishes between same-sex unions, which it has permitted within the church, and homosexual marriage, which it has not. In 2000, an ecclesiastical court ruling (Benton v. Presbytery of Hudson River) affirmed this teaching and distinguished between "a permissible same-sex ceremony and a marriage ceremony is that the latter confers a new status whereas the former blesses an existing relationship."

Still to be decided tonight by the Assembly is whether to affirm the committee's recommendation to recognize the family health care rights of domestic partners, and whether to persue through litigation properties belonging to congregations who elect to leave the PCUSA.

By Le Anne Clausen
June 27, 2008

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