The 2 million member Presbyterian
Church (USA) on Tuesday agreed to allow the ordination of
non-celibate gay clergy, Reuters reported.
Church delegates meeting in Minneapolis
for their biennial convention last year agreed to allow the
ordination of non-celibate gay clergy, but narrowly rejected gay
marriage. The change needed to be ratified by a majority of the
church's 173 U.S. presbyteries before coming into force.
The deciding vote came Tuesday, when
the liberal Minneapolis-St. Paul presbytery cast its vote.
Ministers and elders meeting in St.
Louis Park overwhelmingly approved the amendment with a 205 to 56
vote. Supporters had unsuccessfully lobbied to overturn the policy
since the late 1990s.
The church currently requires that
officers either be in a monogamous heterosexual marriage or remain
celibate. The new language removes any mention of sexuality and
takes effect July 10.
“They're making this change amid a
larger cultural change. General public opinion on gay rights is
trending pretty dramatically in the liberal direction,” Mark
Chaves, a professor of sociology, religion and divinity at Duke
University told Reuters.
Other mainline Protestant denominations
in the United States have approved the ordination of gay clergy in
recent years, including the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ.
The ordination of two gay bishops
prompted conservatives to split from the Episcopal Church and form
their own church.