United States Church Backs Same-Sex MarriageMonday, July 26 2010
Conservatives Threaten Divisions Within The Church
The million-strong United Church of Christ (UCC) has become the first major US Christian denomination to come out in support of gay marriage. The UCC's general synod passed a resolution affirming "equal rights for couples regardless of gender."
The decision is not binding and will not require Pastors to marry same-sex couples, though some already do. Several other Churches have endorsed gay civil partnerships but have not given them the status of marriage.
The Episcopal Church (the US branch of the Anglican Communion) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church permit same-sex unions, while the Presbyterian Church is seeking to resolve severe disagreements over the issue.
US conservatives are seeking to amend the country's constitution to ban same-sex marriage, which is currently legal only in the state of Massachusetts.
Around 80 per cent of the UCC's 884-member synod voted in favour of the resolution. UCC churches are autonomous, and the synod cannot dictate policy to individual congregations.
Nevertheless, opponents of the resolution said it could cause a split:
"I would like to see us stay in the denomination and network for positive change, said Rev Brett Brecker, who represents a conservative group in the Church.
"However, many of my members have expressed very clearly that this decision would cause great consternation and that, if this happened, they would want to see us leave."
The UCC, which is strong in New England, an area traditionally more tolerant of same-sex unions than other parts of the country, became the first major denomination to ordain an openly gay minister in the early 1970s.