Presbyterian Vote Rejects Marriage Equality


The Presbyterian Church of the USA voted on Friday to reject a proposed change that would have allowed the church to recognize same-sex marriages. The vote was close however.

Reports the AP:

The Presbyterian General Assembly, meeting in Pittsburgh, voted 338-308 against changing how marriage was defined in the church constitution from a “civil contract between a woman and a man” to a “covenant between two people.”


Opponents of the new definition of marriage said it would violate the word of God, divide the Presbyterian Church and alienate the denomination from its many partner churches overseas. If the assembly had approved the redefinition, it would have required ratification from a majority of the church’s 173 presbyteries, or regional districts, a process that usually stretches for months.

“I must affirm definition of marriage as between one man and one woman,” said Jodi Craiglow, of the Miami Valley Presbytery in Ohio. She directly addressed gay Presbyterians. “As much as my heart breaks for your pain and frustration, I must simply hold to the standard of the God I love,” she said.

Michael Adee, executive director of the gay advocacy group More Light Presbyterians, called the outcome “a heartbreaking moment, a disappointing moment.” Several delegates and observers wept after the vote. “It’s a moment to grieve and it’s also a moment when we pick up and keep doing the work,” Adee said. “The conversation isn’t over.”

This comes a year after the Church voted to strike down a barrier against ordaining gay clergy in same-sex partnerships.

This year’s vote wasn’t a complete loss however. The Church also voted against adopting language that would have shored up the so-called “traditional” definition of marriage.

Given how close the vote was this time around, and the upward trend in support for marriage equality and gay rights, Friday’s vote has led some to speculate that a similar measure brought up for a vote next year would potentially win through. While the statistical model used to track the positive swing in general levels of support for marriage equality perhaps does not apply in this specific case because of the variables that would have to be accounted for, it does at least seem that the Presbyterian church has moved significantly, and some might even say dramatically, toward a more accepting stance.

On October 8, 2011, Scott Anderson became the first openly gay ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church. You can read more about him here.


Related Stories:

Presbyterian Church USA Votes to Affirm Gay Clergy in Same-Sex Partnerships

“Act of God” Interrupts Pope Benedict’s Anti-Gay Speech

Pope Urges “Defense” of Marriage


Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to atmtx.


Beth M.
Beth M5 years ago

Glad that my God is fair, just, and loving of all people.

Amanda M.
Amanda M5 years ago

I see the forward-thinking Presbyterians leaving the church in droves because of this step backwards by the clergy.

However, the close call is still a good sign for equality, even if the vote was ultimately negative.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton5 years ago

"Opponents of the new definition of marriage said it would violate the word of God"

Substitute "imaginary fairy figure" for God and oops, it "violates" the word of WHITE MEN, DIKTATERS!!! If I were any of these sheeple I would say, eat @^# and walk out. NOBODY, I MEAN NOBODY has the RIGHT to stick their NOSE in anybody else's SEX LIFE.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

If a chruch wants to stay in the dark ages, its progressive members will find a more enlightened chruch. Frankly, a chruch can deny whatever they want, but it doesn't mean they are right.

John B.
John B5 years ago

While disappointing I agree with the article that this is a small step in the process. While I don't believe in a god, most in the LBGTQ community do and need that validation from their church to feel complete and accepted. I don't. Thanks Steve for the article.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Presbyterians can believe whatever they want and stay in their box. The world goes on.

Ron B.
Ron B5 years ago

Does it really matter what the Presbyterian church thinks? Long after it becomes a forgotten footnote in history along with other religions, the LGBT world community will still be thriving because it's real---it's a fact of life and genetics.

Religion's ultimate weakness is that it's a paper tiger. It believes in something that doesn't exist. There might be some sort of supreme being in the universe, but it isn't obsessed with planet Earth. It isn't going to smite all of the non-believers on this tiny speck of dust in the cosmos. And it certainly didn't create humans in it's own image. It's the other way around.

Judith g.
Judith g5 years ago

Maybe the presbyterians should address the high levels of domestic violence, child sexual abuse, murder, mayhem and general victimization that occurs every day in traditional marriage. I realize that this is not the case in all marriages, however as a clinician who worked in the DV field for many years I saw religion as a major contributor to oppression and subjugation of women and children.

Lauren B.

Let the Presbyterians figure this out for themselves. Churches are organizations and don't have much to do with what I consider goodness, love, or compassion. If gay Presbyterians don't like it they can lobby, educate their congregations, or join a church that welcomes them.

Sharon H.
Sharon H5 years ago

@Mike...if it was SO important to God, then why isn't it one of the commandments? Thou shalt ONLY marry someone of the opposite sex! And, were you there for the 6th day of creation? How do you know what happened then? Do you understand how idiotic you look when you say things like that? And, as Tim pointed out...there were no witnesses, so how do you know that's what happened? Oh, and see my comment to Dawid about Jesus and who his friends were. That at least is documented. And I also see what you think of women in that statement about active and passive. I also guess you don't have orgasms because it offends God? Do you also follow everything from the old testament? Are you wearing a shirt with more than one type of material? If so, we get to burn you. If you have a garden, do you have more than one crop side by side? If so, we get to stone you. You can't have it both can't pick and choose what fits your bigoted beliefs.