The House approved the first federal ban on job discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals. (AP / CBS)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The highest court of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ruled that there are no exceptions to the church's ban on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians.
The ruling, issued last week by the Louisville-based church, ends hopes of some that the policy adopted in 2006 would allow regional governing bodies flexibility in enforcing the rule.
The constitution gives "freedom of conscience" to disagree with church law, which restricts ordination to singles living in chastity" or those living in "fidelity" in a heterosexual marriage, the court ruled.
But the constitution "does not permit disobedience to those behavioral standards," according to the court, known as the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission.
The fidelity and chastity provision may only be changed by a constitutional amendment," it said. Unless that happens, everyone
"must adhere to it."
The ruling drew praise from conservative groups, such as Presbyterians for Renewal in Louisville.