While many former opponents of same-sex marriage are now supporting it, the reversal by the Rev. Marc Benton, a Pennsylvania professor and former pastor, is an especially significant one in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
He’s the one who brought about the explicit ban on such marriages in the denomination’s constitution.
Now he’s giving support for same-sex marriages and apologizing for the legal process he set in motion.
“And so here I am, some 15 years later, to apologize for what I did back then….for the pain and trouble I caused,” he wrote to the Hudson River Presbytery in New York, of which he’s a member.
As I reported today, the momentum appears decisive toward redefining marriage in the church constitution to allow for same-sex couples.
Some back story:
Rev. Benton is an adjunct professor in communication at Harrisburg Community College and York College of Pennsylvania. He served as pastor at Pennsylvania congregations and at one in the Hudson River Presbytery in New York State. As a member there, he brought a complaint against the presbytery for failing to discipline another minister for conducting a service of “holy union” involving a same-sex couple in 1998.
The result: the top court of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ruled in 2000 that its pastors and churches could not be conducting same-sex commitment ceremonies if the liturgy made them look like marriages — which the church constitution has defined as between a man and a woman. On the other hand, the court ruled that pastors could bless same-sex unions if the rite were different enough that no one would mistake it for a wedding.