Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) votes to allow openly lesbian, gay pastors to be ordained

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted tonight to amend the denomination’s Book of Order in a move that clears the way for the church to begin ordaining non-celibate lesbian and gay clergy, deacons and elders, according to a number of online reports, including this one from Reuters.

Michael Adee

The denomination’s General Assembly voted last summer to amend the Book of Order by removing a requirement that clergy live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” But the change had to be ratified by a majority of the denomination’s 173 regional presbyteries, and the 87th and deciding vote was cast tonight by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Presbytery.

Ratification comes at the end of a long battle, including a vote just two years ago refusing the amendment. However, by the time the Minneapolis-St. Paul Presbytery voted tonight, 19 of the regions that voted against the change two years ago had already voted in favor of the amendment this time around.

Michael Adee, the executive director of More Light Presbyterians which has been pushing for the change for several years, on Tuesday told The Huffington Post, “This is quite a day of celebration. We’ve restored the longstanding Presbyterian understanding of ordination: that the most important qualifications are related to faith, not marital status or sexuality.”

—  admin

Hundreds rally against Ind. marriage amendment

DEANNA MARTIN | Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Several hundred people gathered Monday at the Indiana Statehouse to rally against a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions.

The “Equality for All Hoosiers” rally Monday came two days before a Senate committee meeting that will take up the issue. The Republican-controlled House already has approved the proposal, and the Republican-led Senate also is expected to pass it.

But those at the rally said the amendment would write discrimination into Indiana’s constitution. They’re urging lawmakers to vote against the proposal and voters to pay attention to those votes during the next election cycle.

If the General Assembly approves the proposed amendment this year, it would have to pass again in 2013 or 2014 to be on the ballot in 2014.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: U.N. approves U.S. amendment, restores gays to genocide protections

The U.N. General Assembly adopted an amendment Tuesday afternoon to restore “sexual orientation” to a resolution condemning the unjustified killing of people from certain minority groups.

Sexual orientation had been removed from the resolution by a committee last month for the first time since 1999, at the request of Arab and African nations.

The amendment restoring sexual orientation was proposed by the U.S.

From the Associated Press:

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. member states have restored a reference to sexual orientation that was dropped amid much controversy last month from a resolution opposing the unjustified killing of minority groups.

The removal of the reference, done at the committee level last month, alarmed human rights advocates who said gay people are among minority groups that need special protection from extrajudicial and other unjustified killings.

The assembly on Tuesday voted 93 in favor of the United States’ proposal to restore the previous language, with 55 countries against and 27 abstaining. The assembly then approved the amended resolution 122 in favor, with 0 votes against, and 59 abstentions.

UPDATE: The White House issued the following statement about the vote:

“President Obama applauds those countries that supported the amendment offered by the United States to ensure that ‘sexual orientation’ remains covered by the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary execution. Killing people because of their sexual orientation cannot be rationalized by diverse religious values or varying regional perspectives. Killing people because they are gay is not culturally defensible — it is criminal.

“While today’s adoption of an inclusive resolution is important, so too are the conversations that have now begun in capitals around the world about inclusion, equality, and discrimination. Protecting gays and lesbians from state-sponsored discrimination is not a special right, it is a human right. Today’s vote in the United Nations marks an important moment in the struggle for civil and human rights. The time has come for all nations to redouble our efforts to end discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

—  John Wright