Presbyterian leaders approve gay clergy policy
Leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which has more than 2 million members, voted Thursday to allow non-celibate gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy, approving the first of two policy changes that could make their church one of the most gay-friendly major Christian denominations in the United States. Delegates voted during the church's general assembly in Minneapolis, with 53 percent approving the more liberal policy on gay clergy. A separate vote is expected on whether to change the church's definition of marriage from between "a man and a woman" to between "two people." The changes will then need to be approved by a majority of the church's 173 U.S. presbyteries. Last year, 94 of the presbyteries voted against a change in the policy. Under current church policy, Presbyterians are eligible to become clergy, deacons or elders only if they are married or celibate. The new policy would strike references to sexuality altogether in favor of candidates committed to "joyful submission to worship of Christ."