Another big victory for gay rights, this time outside the courts: The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted yesterday to redefine marriage in its constitution as a "unique commitment between two people" instead of "between a man and a woman," reports the AP, which notes that the move makes the church the biggest US Protestant group to recognize gay marriage. The church's top legislative body approved the move last year, but its 172 regional presbyteries have been voting on it one by one and a majority of 86 was reached yesterday, reports the Huffington Post. The change, known as Amendment 14-F, has been rejected by 41 of the regional bodies, and clergy members who object to the move will not be required to officiate at same-sex weddings.
The church's new definition of marriage adds that it's "traditionally a man and a woman" who make the commitment. The church has 1.8 million members and just over 10,000 congregations, but its position on gay marriage has caused hundreds of parishes to depart the denomination, the Post notes. "Some of us are calling it liberation day," a gay pastor in New Jersey tells the New York Times. "It will be the last LGBTQ issue that we debate and fight about, and finally our welcome comes without a 'but' or an 'if.'" Other Protestant groups, including the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ, allow same-sex marriage, but the editor of a conservative Presbyterian journal tells the Times that he doesn't "see further large mainline denominations making the same move."