Friday, June 27, 2008

Presbyterians Vote to End LGBT Discrimination

From SFGate:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), bitterly divided over sexuality and the Bible, set up another confrontation Friday over its ban on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians.

The denomination's General Assembly, meeting in San Jose, Calif., voted 54 percent to 46 percent Friday to drop the requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."

The proposed change to the church constitution requires approval from a majority the nation's 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies — a yearlong process that has proven to be a barrier to similar efforts in the past.

Of equal importance to advocates on both side of the debate, the assembly also voted to allow gay and lesbian candidates for ordination to conscientiously object to the existing standard. Local presbyteries and church councils that approve ordinations would consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.

That vote was an "an authoritative interpretation" of the church constitution rather than a change to it, so it goes into effect immediately. The interpretation supersedes a ruling from the church's high court, issued in February, that said there were no exceptions to the so-called "fidelity and chastity" requirement...
The Lead points us to a press release from More Light Presbyterians:

More Light Presbyterians said a decision today by the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to lift its ban on ordination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons is good news for Presbyterians and Christians across the country and world.

“This is a great moment affirming God’s love for all people. We are thankful to the Commissioners at this Assembly who upheld standards for leadership and service in our Church, and at the same time eliminated categorical discrimination that has denied ordination to LGBT persons based simply on who they are and who they fall in love with,” said Michael J. Adee, Executive Director and Field Organizer for the organization.

The action by the General Assembly removes G.60106b from its Book of Order, the Constitution which governs the Church and replaces it with new language. Formerly, it required fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness to be eligible for ordination as deacons, elders or ministers.

“The intent of this standard, passed over a decade ago, was to bar LGBT persons from full membership and service in our Church since marriage equality is not yet available to most in our country,” Adee said.

New language passed by the General Assembly reaffirms historic standards of the Church that focus on faith and character which has withstood the test of time, and did not exclude anyone based on sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status...
Yesterday, General Assembly voted to restore the Heidelberg Catechism to its original language:

...After rejection of the minority report and extended debate, the Assembly voted with a strong 60% majority to restore the Heidelberg Catechism to its historic accuracy which did not include a reference to "homosexual perversion"...
These changes will still have to be approved by a vote of the presbyteries, so it's not over yet. But this good beginning is certainly reason for rejoicing.


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