Margaret Eby
March 18, 2015 1:39 pm

The victories for marriage equality have been stacking up for months. With, fingers crossed, a Supreme Court decision on the way soon, it looks very likely that same-sex marriage will soon be legalized once and for all. Even though gay marriage is gaining real legal ground, it still remains a highly-contentious issue in many, many religious communities. Which is why this week’s news from the Presbyterian Church is such an enormously big deal.

On Tuesday, members of the Presbyterian Church voted to change the definition of marriage in the church’s constitution from being between a “man and a woman” to between “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”

The church is the largest of the Presbyterian denominations, with 1. 8 millions members. With the largest denomination within Presbyterianism turning towards gay marriage, a big statement is made to the rest of the community. To further heighten the excitement and meaning behind the news, gay marriage has been a hot-button debate within the Presbyterian Church for decades which makes this decision even more big-time.

That said, gay marriage continues to be a huge and controversial issue within many religions. Pew conducted some really interesting research which showed which religions now acknowledge and allow for same-sex unions. Those include: the Presbyterian Church, the Conservative Jewish Movement, the Reform Jewish Movement, Quakers, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, United Church of Christ, and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Churches.

“Finally, the church in its constitutional documents fully recognizes that the love of gays and lesbian couples is worth celebrating in the faith community,” Rev. Brian D. Ellison, executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, told the New York Times. “There is still disagreement, and I don’t mean to minimize that, but I think we are learning that we can disagree and still be church together.”

The vote also means the end of censure for ministers who broke church law by marrying same-sex couples in the past. (Ministers who object to the ruling will not be required to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.)

The United Methodist Church is currently debating the same issue; maybe they can take a page from the Presbyterian Church’s playbook. The world is ready to move forward.

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