Historic Actions for LGBTQ people at Presbyterian General Assembly
This week, nearly 5,000 Presbyterians are gathered in Detroit, Michigan, for the denomination’s 221st biennial General Assembly. There, policies are set for the Presbyterian Church (USA) and its 1.8 million members nationwide.
As the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States, the deliberations taking place there this week could have huge implications for LGBTQ people.
First, an amendment to the Constitution of the PC(USA) would replace the existing language to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. If passed by a simple majority of delegates at the Assembly, the amendment would also need to be ratified by two-thirds of the denomination’s 172 regional presbyteries.
Second, an “authoritative interpretation” would allow clergy to marry same-sex couples immediately without fear of discipline, regardless of the outcome of the vote on the constitutional amendment.
The last two General Assemblies have seen great advances for LGBTQ inclusion within the PC(USA). Four years ago, the Assembly approved a constitutional amendment allowing for the ordination of LGBTQ clergy. Two years ago, the denomination came very close to extending marriage to same-sex couples, falling short by just a handful of votes.
The Task Force and our Institute for Welcoming Resources is proud to work in coalition with More Light Presbyterians, which work for the full participation of LGBTQ people in the life, ministry, and witness of the PC(USA) and in society. We encourage you to read this reflection by Alex Patchin McNeill, Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians and the first transgender leader of an LGBTQ faith group, as the PC(USA)’s General Assembly begins its work this week.
The General Assembly proceedings are live-streaming at http://oga.pcusa.org/section/ga/ga221/. And follow what’s happening on Twitter by searching the hashtag #love221.
by Javen Swanson Interim Faith Work Director at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force