The audience takes part in an opening prayer at the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church at Cobo Hall, in Detroit, on June 19, 2014
David Guralnick/The Detroit News/AP

Presbyterian Church: Gay marriage is Christian

Updated

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) just got a little more welcoming.

The legislative body of the largest Presbyterian church in the country voted Thursday to recognize gay marriage as Christian in the church constitution, rewriting the tenets on marriage to include the union of “two people,” not just “a man and a woman.” 

The Church also voted to allow ministers to preside over gay weddings in states where the unions are legal, so Presbyterians in 19 states and the District of Columbia can now be wed by their ministers.

The amendment on writing gay marriage into the church’s constitution must now be approved by the Presbyterian General Assembly, the Church’s regional leaders, and will be voted on over the next year. The Church began welcoming in gay clergy in 2011, but until this week had prohibited its ministers from wedding gay couples with the threat of penalties.

It’s the latest victory for same-sex marriage advocates, who have seen a slew of legal victories in the last year with judge after judge striking down gay marriage bans. Last month, Idaho and Arkansas judges struck down gay marriage bans.

The church has 1.8 million members in the U.S.

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Presbyterian Church: Gay marriage is Christian

Updated