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LOUISVILLE, KY -- Efforts to allow gays and lesbians to serve as clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have been defeated again, sealed by votes this weekend.
But the margin of defeat - the final tally has yet to be determined - is already guaranteed to be much closer than in previous years. That is encouraging for gay clergy supporters and concerning to opponents, with both sides expecting the issue to be revisited in the future.
Last summer, the 2.3 million-member denomination's General Assembly voted to drop a constitutional requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."
Any such change requires approval by a majority of the nation's 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies. Those votes have been trickling in for months, and on Saturday enough "no" votes had been recorded to clinch the measure's defeat.
At least two presbyteries - Northern Plains, which covers all of North Dakota and part of Minnesota, and Boise, in Idaho - voted against the amendment Saturday, according to activist groups and an independent Presbyterian Web site, Presbyweb, that has been tracking the votes.
Before, the total was 68 presbyteries for and 86 opposed, or one shy of the margin needed for defeat, according to Presbyterian News Service, the denomination's official press arm.
Associated Press Story