Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Vote tolerates same-sex unions

Local Presbyterian leaders oppose ban by a 123-105 vote

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — Elders and pastors in the Presbytery of Cincinnati on Tuesday voted against a proposed amendment to ban the celebration of same-sex unions.

        The amendment, if adopted nationwide, would be added to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) “Directory for Worship.”

        The local vote was 123 against the amendment, 105 in favor and 1 abstention, according to the Rev. Sam Roberson, general presbyter of the Presbytery of Cincinnati.

        Elders and pastors from Presbyterian churches throughout the Tristate convened at Crestview Presbyterian Church in West Chester to vote on the official, restrictive change.

        The denomination now leaves it up to a church's pastor and governing body to decide whether to celebrate same-sex unions.

        The heated debate preceding Tuesday's vote was indicated how divisive the issue of homosexuality has been in the church.

        “It may make everyone uncomfortable, but it was helpful to us. It's helped us in the sense of getting people to talk about each other, about different matters. This is an historic issue,” said the Rev. Mr. Roberson. Today, “it will be pretty clear which way this vote goes nationally. We were the last of the key primaries.”

        Before Tuesday's vote, 83 presbyteries nationwide supported the status quo. Sixty voted for the amendment the ban on same-sex unions. In all, there are 173 pres byteries, and 11, including Cincinnati, voted Tuesday.

        The proposed amendment reads as follows: “God's intention for all people is to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in singleness. Church property shall not be used for, and church officers shall not take part in conducting any ceremony or event that pronounces blessing or gives approval of the church or invokes the blessing of God upon any relationship that is inconsistent with God's intention as expressed in the preceding sentence.”

        Few area Presbyterian churches have held same-sex marriage ceremonies. Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church, where about a third of the congregation is gay or lesbian, has been openly disobedient to the national denomination's ban on gay and lesbian elders.


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