The Presbyterian Church (USA) has become the latest mainstream American Protestant denomination to allow noncelibate LGB people to become pastors.
On May 10, a vote of a regional governing body in Minnesota pushed the number of "presbyteries" supporting the change over the halfway mark.
The development effectively ratified a July 2010 vote of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church to end ordination discrimination against everyone who wasn't either straight, married and monogamous, or single and celibate.
The change removed from the Presbyterians' constitution the requirement that pastors, elders and deacons be living "in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." Now the church will instead look at one's "calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office."
The Presbyterian Church has 173 presbyteries, and the Twin Cities presbytery was the 87th to approve the constitutional revision.
"While it has taken longer for our church to get to this amazing moment of entering into a new era of equality, this voting process has given us the opportunity to affirm that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are part of God's good creation and can be called by God to serve the church," said Michael Adee, executive director of More Light Presbyterians. "The thousands of conversations, prayers and the sharing of hopes and dreams are all part of building a church that reflects God's heart."
"Passing this amendment makes clear the good news that the Presbyterian Church welcomes and values every person -- because Jesus does," said the Rev. Mary Lynn Tobin, co-moderator of Covenant Network of Presbyterians. "Its passage removes an enormous stumbling block for many who would otherwise be drawn to following Jesus."
Sylvia Thorson-Smith of Presbyterian Voices for Justice added: "We rejoice that God's justice-loving spirit has blown like a mighty wind through our church after long decades of struggle. For years we have wept for the many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians who have left our church because their calls were denied. But today, we shed tears of jubilation that our church has finally said yes to their full participation."
Other mainline U.S. Protestant denominations that allow noncelibate LGB people to be pastors include the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church.