pride-cross-john-stuartIn a fight that has been a long time coming, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ratified a proposal on Tuesday that would change the language of the church’s constitution to allow gay and lesbian clergy to be ordained in the church, according to the Associated Press. However, the church will continue to ban its clergy from performing same-sex marriages, says the church’s General Assembly. Currently, clergy members can bless a same-sex union as long as the blessing does not resemble a wedding in any way.

During the legislative General Assembly, which took place July 3-10, 2010, the committee on Civil Unions and Marriages voted 34-18 in favor of redefining marriage in the church constitution, saying it should be defined as being a covenant between “two people” instead of “a man and a woman.” But in the “two steps forward and one step back” dance that is the fight for marriage equality, the measure required the approval of the entire General Assembly to pass. It did not get approval.

The church has gone so far as to reprimand clergy members for performing same-sex marriages, even in states where it is legal. In August of 2010, Rev. Jane Spahr was rebuked by the Presbytery of the Redwoods Permanent Judicial Commission in California for performing same-sex weddings from June to November of 2008, when it was legal to do so under state law. Spahr, herself a lesbian, said in an interview with Ecumenical News International that the committee’s verdict showed that the church was merely paying lip service to equality for gays and lesbians. She is appealing the verdict.



Photo: Original artwork by John Stuart