As expected, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has defeated a constitutional amendment that would have allowed openly gay clergy in the denomination. Eighty-eight regional Presbyteries have voted against ratifying the amendment, while 69 have voted in favor of it, according to the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, which is tracking the vote on its Web site. Despite the amendment’s defeat, this marks a substantial shift from the last time the issue was voted on. In 2001, a similar amendment was defeated by a nearly 3-1 margin. As I reported a few weeks ago, Grace Presbytery of North Texas was one of the many regional bodies that switched their positions this time around, voting in favor of the amendment. According to the Covenant Network, Grace Presbytery was among 28 to do so, while only two have switched their positions from yes to no.

Due to this trend, even opponents of the amendment admit that it’s likely to pass next time, and apparently they’re getting desperate. Ron Scates, the homophobic pastor of Highland Park Presbyterian Church, is now trying to argue that the amendment — which would remove a clause in the church’s constitution that requires fidelity in (heterosexual) marriage or chastity in singleness — isn’t really about homosexuality.

“”It impinges on far more heterosexuals who don’t like it,” Scates told The Dallas Morning News. “They’d like to have their libertarian heterosexual lifestyle.”

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