Church liberals are calling the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) adoption of a “social statement on human sexuality” a victory despite its conflicting views on gay relationships.

The 1,045 voting ELCA representatives meeting this week in Minneapolis, Minnesota approved the social statement titled Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust by a large majority (66%) on Wednesday, the AP reported.

“The social statement now forms the basis for policy and advocacy on issues related to families and sexuality both for ministry and advocacy in church and society,” Emily Eastwood, executive director of Goodsoil, a coalition of gay-inclusive Lutheran groups, said in a statement.

The social statement offers diverse viewpoints on gay relationships. It simultaneously affirms that “some are convinced that same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to biblical teaching and their understanding of natural law,” and that others “believe that the neighbor and community are best served when same-gender relationships are lived out with lifelong and monogamous commitments that are held to the same rigorous standards, sexual ethics, and status as heterosexual marriage.”

Goodsoil cheered its passage, saying, “This is a day of progress and compromise. … The social statement is tolerant of our differences both in scriptural interpretation and practice. The social statement supports our unity without requiring uniformity. There is still much work to do, but the door to full inclusion of LGBT members and their families is now most definitely open.”

Passage of the social statement is widely viewed as a positive sign that ELCA representatives will vote to allow pastors in gay relationships to remain in the church.

On Friday, Lutherans will consider a proposal that repeals the church's ban on non-celibate gay pastors from leading churches. In ways, the proposal only acknowledges changes already taking place in the church.

Since the early 1990s the church has taken in gay and lesbian pastors, so long as they promise to remain celibate. But the reality on the ground is that several churches now say they are being led by pastors in gay relationships. The church officially removes these gay pastors from the ELCA clergy roster, but they often remain in their positions.

Church liberals won their first step towards passage of the proposal on Monday when they managed to stave off a move by conservatives that would have required a two-thirds majority to win approval, rather than a simple majority. Only 43 percent of representatives supported the change.

“We are encouraged and hopeful that on Friday this foundation [approval of the social statement] will result in the church's elimination of the current ban on ministers in committed same gender relationships,” Goodsoil's Eastwood said.