A proposed amendment to the Presbyterian Church's (USA) constitution that would allow gay clergy to serve as ministers and elders is one vote shy of being rejected.

The proposed amendment would strike out language from the church's Book of Order that bans gay clergy from serving in leadership positions. Backers would like to remove the following passage: “Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.”

According to results posted on the website of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, which opposes gay clergy, 86 presbyteries have voted against the change, 68 have voted in favor and 19 remain uncounted.

With 19 votes left, the measure sits just one vote shy from defeat, making it almost certain that the Presbyterian Church will reject gay clergy again. A similar measure in 2001 was defeated by a wider 46 to 127 margin.

Also in 2001, presbyteries in the Presbyterian Church voted down an amendment (Amendment O) that sought to prohibit Presbyterian ministers from blessing gay unions.