CHICAGO - The US Presbyterian Church voted on Tuesday to allow the ordination of gays, becoming the fourth Protestant denomination in the United States to make the move that experts say reflects a larger cultural shift.
The debate over whether gays should be ordained as ministers has led to sharp divisions within several Protestant faiths. Some 100 congregations out of 11,000 have left the Presbyterian church in the past five years, including a few large ones, church sources said.
A majority of the 173 regions, or presbyteries, supported the long-debated change in the constitution of the 2.3-million member Presbyterian Church (USA) that will permit gay candidates to be ordained clergy, elders and deacons, church sources said.
The move eliminates a requirement in the constitution that clergy live "in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."