Lutheran Panel Backs Gay Unions, 'Married' Gay Clerics
Task force seeks compromise on issue of non-celibate gay clergy
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2009 3:27 AM CST
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson listens to a press conference moderato in 2005.   (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
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(Newser) – A task force from the nation's largest Lutheran denomination has recommended the church give its blessing to same-sex unions, reports the Los Angeles Times. The panel also recommended that the Evangelic Lutheran Church in America allow gays—currently only permitted to serve as clergy if they are celibate—to serve as clergy if they are in committed, monogamous relationships.

The panel stopped short of calling same-sex unions marriage, but said ways could be found to "surround the commitments of such couples with prayer." To aid compromise, it asked the church to respect the views of dissenting congregations that believe same-sex unions are against scripture. The assembly of the 5-million-member church will vote on the recommendations this August and fierce controversy is expected.