The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), by far the biggest Presbyterian denomination in the United States, voted this afternoon to permit its clergy to perform same sex marriages in those states where such marriages are permitted, and to allow those marriages to be performed in churches. It also voted to change the definition of marriage in the Book of Order to recognize that a marriage can be between two people, rather than exclusively between a man and a woman. The first vote takes effect immediately, while the second one becomes effective only if a majority of the 172 regional Presbyteries vote to approve it over the next year.
I am very proud of my denomination for taking these actions. A few years ago, such an action would have seemed impossible, but attitudes are changing rapidly in the church, as well as in the wider society. This will be a difficult change for many people to accept, and some churches will undoubtedly leave the denomination because of it, but it was painful to listen to some of the stories from pastors who felt that they were unable to perform marriages for members of their congregations, or indeed of their own families, who they knew had loving and committed relationships.