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.