Click here to download a pdf file of the Amendment 14-F Vote ( FINAL updated 7/7/15)
According to the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Office of the General Assembly (OGA), the final vote tally for Amendment 14-F is 121 in favor and 48 against, with two presbyteries taking no action on the issue.
The amendment was actually approved on March 17, when a majority of Presbyterian Church (USA) presbyteries voted in favor of changing the denomination’s definition of marriage so that same-sex weddings may be conducted by PCUSA pastors and in PCUSA churches.
The vote officially changed the definition of marriage found in the PCUSA’s constitution from between “a man and a woman” to “a unique relationship between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”
The PCUSA’s new definition of marriage went into effect on June 21, 2015, and soon after — on June 26 to be exact — the U.S. Supreme Court released its ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. The PCUSA “celebrated” that decision, according to an article from The Presbyterian News Service.
The PCUSA’s Stated Clerk Grayde Parsons told the PNS that the denomination has “advocated for almost four decades for civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. [The] decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is in keeping with that work.”
The OGA released a document — “Same Gender Marriage after Supreme Court: Obergefell v. Hodges,” — which clearly states that “Nothing in our Constitution shall compel a teaching elder to perform a marriage service that the teaching elder believes is contrary to the teaching elder’s discernment of the Holy Spirit and understanding of the Word of God.”
However, after reading the document, Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, has warned that “proving a local congregation has a ‘sincerely held religious belief’ that is no longer shared by the denomination with which it is affiliated will mean that there’s no larger ecclesiastical backstop for PCUSA churches … If you are a PCUSA teaching elder, you may currently have protection under the denomination’s constitution but it does not sound as if the denomination is prepared to defend you in civil court should the state determine to compel you.”
LaBerge echos the counsel being offered by the Christian Legal Society, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the North American Lutheran Church and the Anglican Church North America: “If you have not done so already, now is the time for every church session to review its organizational documents. Identify where your local church differs theologically from your parent denomination and clearly articulate the Biblical and Confessional reasons for those differences. If pressed, you will have to substantiate why the denominational standards are not controlling and binding by pointing to your particular congregation’s demonstrated consistent commitment to traditional marriage.”
Final presbytery votes on 14F
The last presbyteries to vote included Kendall (17 yes – 6 no); Mackinac (38 yes – 23 no) and Western Colorado voting against changing the definition of marriage. Dakota and Western Kentucky presbyteries took no action on the issue.
Of the 171 presbyteries in the PCUSA, 35 switched their vote on sexuality-related issues in four years time — voting one way in 2010-2011 on the issue of ordaining lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) as deacons, elders and pastors in the PCUSA (called Amendment 10A), and reversing their vote on same-sex marriage (Amendment 14F).
Who has shifted?
Seven presbyteries which voted in favor of ordaining LGBTQ people in 2010-2011 have voted against same-sex marriage in this year’s vote. They are:
- Eastern Oklahoma, No, 33-46 on same-sex marriage; Yes, 55-53 on ordaining LGBTQ
- Eastminster, No, 34-36 on same-sex marriage; Yes, 46-45 on ordination
- Grand Canyon, No, 59-59 on same-sex marriage; Yes, 84-53 on ordination
- Riverside, No, 30-38 on same-sex marriage; Yes, 58-45 on ordination
- Savannah, No, 27-41 on same-sex marriage; Yes, 40-33 on ordination
- South Alabama, No, 22-32 on same-sex marriage; Yes, 34-33 on ordination
- Yellowstone, No, 19-25 on same-sex marriage; Yes, 27-25 on ordination
Twenty-eight presbyteries have swung the other way — voting “yes” on same-sex marriage, but voting “no” three years ago on the ordination issue. They include:
- Carlisle, Yes, 80-62 on same-sex marriage; No, 89-102 on ordination
- Charleston-Atlantic, Yes, 60-41 on same-sex marriage; No, 49-55 on ordination
- Cherokee, Yes, 42-26 on same-sex marriage; No, 49-62 on ordination
- deCristo, Yes, 34-30 on same-sex marriage; No, 62-62 on ordination (a tie vote counts as a “No” vote)
- Foothills, Yes, 84-61 on same-sex marriage; No, 64-95 on ordination
- Glacier, Yes, on same-sex marriage; No on ordination
- Huntingdon, Yes, 31-29 on same-sex marriage; No, 32-33 on ordination
- James, Yes, 122-72 on same-sex marriage; No. 152-152 on ordination
- John Calvin, Yes, 42-39 on same-sex marriage; No, 30-41 on ordination
- Kendall, Yes, 17-6 on same-sex marriage; No, 5-17 on ordination
- Lackawanna, Yes, 20-16 on same-sex marriage; No, 33-58 on ordination
- Lake Erie, Yes, 35-26 on same-sex marriage; No, 36-44 on ordination
- Lake Huron, Yes, 37-24 on same-sex marriage; No, 33-39 on ordination
- Mid South, Yes, 35-22 on same-sex marriage; No, 48-49 on ordination
- Muskingum Valley, Yes, on same-sex marriage; No, 44-58 on ordination
- New Covenant, Yes, 128-114 on same-sex marriage; No, 144-156 on ordination
- North Central Iowa, Yes, 37-29 on same-sex marriage; No, 43-50 on ordination
- Olympia, Yes, 39-23 on same-sex marriage; No, 39-78 on ordination
- Pines, Yes, 33-23 on same-sex marriage; No, 36-44 on ordination
- Pittsburgh, Yes, 122-110 on same-sex marriage; No, 80-163 on marriage
- Prospect Hill, Yes, 33-24 on same-sex marriage; No, 22-44 on ordination
- Pueblo, Yes, 30-24 on same-sex marriage; No, 22-49 on ordination
- San Gabriel, Yes, on same-sex marriage; No, 92-92 on ordination (a tie vote counts as a “No” vote)
- Seattle, Yes, 111-93 on same-sex marriage; No, 103-126 on ordination
- Shenandoah, Yes, 99-79 on same-sex marriage; No, 93-106 on ordination
- Stockton, Yes, 23-18 on same-sex marriage; No, 6-44 on ordination
- Tampa Bay, Yes, 108-94 on same-sex marriage; No, 91-120 on ordination
- Yukon, Yes, 27-19 on same-sex marriage; No, 21-28 on ordination
The 221st General Assembly approved the amendment at its June 2014 meeting, and it must be ratified by a majority of the PCUSA’s presbyteries for it to be included in the denomination’s constitution. The magic number — or majority of presbyteries — is 86. The PCUSA now has 171 presbyteries. The 2014 General Assembly dissolved Hamni Presbytery and Alaska Presbytery and North Puget Sound Presbytery have combined to form Northwest Coast Presbytery.
Sample letters for church members and sessions:
- Text of a sample letter to your pastor/session
- Text of a sample session resolution
- Session position statement on same-sex marriages
- Session position statement to the church on same-sex marriage
Key for the past votes recorded in the voting chart:
In 2010-2011, presbyteries voted 97-76 for Amendment 10-A, which revised G-6.0106b, the constitutional fidelity/chastity ordination requirement, allowing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to be ordained as pastors, elders and deacons. It amended text reads “Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”
In 2008-2009, presbyteries voted 78-95 against Amendment 08-B, which would have removed the “fidelity/chastity” standard from the Book of Order. The standard requires that ordained officers be faithful in marriage between a man and a woman, or chaste in singleness.
In 2001, presbyteries voted 46-127 against Amendment A which called for extracting the “fidelity/chastity” constitutional standard required for the ordination of church officers and ending the denomination’s historic Biblical theology that says homosexual activity is sinful.
In 2000-2001, 173 presbyteries voted on a proposal called “Amendment O,” which would have prohibited Presbyterian ministers from conducting so-called “same-sex” unions. The presbyteries voted 73-99, with one tie vote, not to prohibit local sessions from determining whether to allow their pastors to conduct same-sex unions within the local congregation’s buildings. Many believed that the issue was more about the rights and duties of sessions and ministers than it was about whether same-sex unions are morally acceptable.
In 1997-98, the presbyteries voted nearly two-to-one against a proposed amendment that would have replaced G-6.0106b. That proposed change, known as “Amendment A,” would have eliminated the constitutional prohibition against the ordination of adulterers and homosexuals.
In 1996-97, 171 presbyteries in the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted 97-74 to place a constitutional provision in theBook of Order. Before its adoption, that proposal was known as “Amendment B.” It is now G-6.0106b, which requires candidates for minister, elder and deacon to practice fidelity in their marriages or chastity in their singleness. In other words, it prohibits the ordination of self-affirming, practicing adulterers and homosexuals.