Presbyterians Reject Ban on Same-Sex Rites

NEW YORK, MAR. 15, 2001 ( A proposal to bar Presbyterian clergy from officiating at commitment ceremonies for homosexual couples was defeated in a vote tally. That leaves clergy free to conduct such rites as long as they are not confused with marriages, the Associated Press reported.

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The vote is a victory for the liberal side in a conflict that has divided the 3.6 million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for 24 years. The only other major U.S. Christian denomination that permits same-sex blessings is the United Church of Christ, though in practice the Episcopal Church also allows them, AP said.

The Presbyterian measure to ban homosexual commitment ceremonies was passed by the church´s national assembly last June and sent to 173 regional legislatures, known as presbyteries, for ratification. A simple majority of 87 presbyteries was needed for passage, and the count as of Wednesday stands at 63 in favor and 87 opposed.

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