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Episcopals and
Presybterians vote in favor of gays and lesbians at
national sessions

Episcopals and
Presybterians vote in favor of gays and lesbians at
national sessions

Both the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church voted on Tuesday in favor of a role for gays and lesbians in their faith communities.

Both the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church voted on Tuesday in favor of a role for gays and lesbians in their faith communities. At its triennial general convention in Columbus, Ohio, the Episcopal House of Deputies decided not to follow the wish of worldwide Anglican leaders and enact a moratorium on electing openly gay bishops, while the Presbyterian national assembly voted in Birmingham, Alabama, to allow individual congregations and regional presbyteries to make their own decisions regarding gay bishops and others, the Associated Press reports.

"The vote says we're not willing to make sacrificial lambs of our gay and lesbian sisters and brothers and that has to leave me feeling pretty grateful and very proud," the Reverend Susan Russell of Integrity, the Episcopal LGBT caucus, told the AP of her church's vote. The Episcopal Church is the American branch of the 77-million-member international Anglican Communion, which has been in turmoil since the election of openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. With the Episcopal vote, the turmoil will only continue, said conservatives. "Unhappily, this decision seems to show that the Episcopal Church has chosen to walk apart from the rest of the Anglican Communion," Canon Martyn Minns said to the AP, alluding to concerns over a possible permanent split in the church over the inclusion of gays and lesbians. Many dioceses around the world have threatened to secede if the issue were not resolved in favor of those who would exclude gay people. In response to the grave situation prompted by the vote, outgoing presiding bishop Frank Griswold intends to call a special session today before the Episcopal general convention ends to try to find some kind of solution. The session will include both the House of Deputies as well as the church's other policymaking body, the House of Bishops. Meanwhile, the Presbyterian Church, another major American Protestant denomination, moved further to the side of gays and lesbians when its national assembly, by a 298-221 vote, approved legislation that will let churches and regional presbyteries appoint gay clergy, lay elders, and deacons, the AP reports. Although the legislation also affirmed Presbyterian law stipulating that individuals in such positions must restrict sexual relations to opposite-sex marriage, the measure will at least allow LGBT members of the church to serve in such capacities. (The Advocate)

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