The Presbyterian Church Tuesday ratified a measure allowing the ordination of gay and lesbian ministers and lay leaders while allowing individual parishes the ability to decide for themselves, several media outlets reported this week.
With the vote of its regional organization in Minnesota, the Presbyterian Church USA became the fourth mainline Protestant church to allow gay ordination, following the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran churches and the United Church of Christ. The Minnesota vote was closely followed by one in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The change to the Presbyterian Church constitution was approved last summer by the church’s General Assembly, its governing body. But under church rules, such changes must then be ratified by a majority of the 173 regional organizations known as presbyteries.
Late Tuesday, at a meeting in St. Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb, the Twin Cities Presbytery put the measure over the top with a vote of 205 to 56, becoming the 87th regional body to vote yes. About 90 minutes later, the Pacific Presbytery, representing parts of Southern California and all of Hawaii, added its voice, voting 102 to 60 in favor, the Times reported.
It was the fourth time the church had voted on issues related to gay ordination, and the votes reflect a shift in attitudes within the church, and within American society, as public attitudes against homosexuality have softened. Since the last time the matter was brought to a vote, in 2008-09, some 19 presbyteries have switched their votes from “no” to “yes,” including some in relatively conservative parts of the country, such as central Nebraska and northern Alabama, the Times story said.