By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Ministers and elders in the presbytery voted 122-110 in favor of an amendment to the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that allows but does not require its churches to host same-sex marriages and its ministers to perform them.
The vote has no practical impact because the amendment, passed last year by the denomination’s General Assembly, received ratification by mid-March from the needed majority of presbyteries, or regional governing bodies. Also, last year’s assembly had immediately authorized same-sex church weddings in states such as Pennsylvania where they are allowed by law.
The Pittsburgh Presbytery is the sixth-largest in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with more than 30,000 members across Allegheny County. In past years it had voted against ordaining non-celibate gays or blessing their relationships. Several churches have left the presbytery in the last decade over liberal trends in the denomination, including a 2011 amendment removing restrictions on the ordination of gays and lesbians.
By the time members of the Pittsburgh Presbytery met Thursday at Bower Hill Community Church in Mt. Lebanon, however, no one was talking about leaving. Those lining up at microphones stopped to embrace each other before debating.