Speed Reads

Gay marriage

America's gay Presbyterians can now officially marry each other in church

On Thursday, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to allow Presbyterian ministers to perform same-sex marriages, where legal. The church's General Assembly also approved a change to the church's constitution, which now defines marriage as between "two people, traditionally a man and a woman," not just "a man and a woman."

The first change, allowing pastors to perform "any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform," takes effect on Sunday; the change to the constitution, or Book of Order, requires ratification by a majority of the U.S. church's 172 presbyteries. It will be up to individual pastors whether or not to sanction same-sex marriages in their congregation.

The two resolutions passed with large majorities Thursday, reports Laurie Goodstein at The New York Times, despite the fact that America's Presbyterian Church is deeply divided over the issue of gay marriage. General Assemblies voted down similar measures in 1991 and 2008, and in recent years the church has disciplined ministers who performed same-sex marriages. The Presbyterian Church (USA) — America's largest Protestant denomination — voted to ordain openly-gay ministers in 2010.