A majority of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) presbyteries have voted down an amendment that would have placed an iron-clad prohibition on same-sex unions into the PCUSA constitution.

Unofficial tallies after seven presbyteries voted March 13 showed the amendment trailing 63 to 87. Since then, 14 more presbyteries have voted, leaving the unofficial tally Wednesday at 71 to 93. Nine presbyteries have yet to report votes.

The proposed Amendment O would have added a new section to The Book of Order that would have reaffirmed heterosexual marriage or chastity for singles as church standards, and prohibited church officers from taking part in, or church property being used for, any ceremonial event that violates those standards.

"We are left now with a very confused situation, an ambiguous witness," said Joe Rightmyer, executive director of Presbyterians for Renewal, which supported the amendment. Despite the defeat of Amendment O, a recent Presbyterian Panel poll indicates that a majority of Presbyterians favors a ban on same-sex unions in the PCUSA.

Opponents of the measure argue that it is so vaguely worded as to possibly proscribe other ceremonies, such as baptisms, funerals, and the Lord's Supper for same-sex couples; that it is unnecessary because The Book of Order already defines marriage as between a man and a woman; and that it unduly infringes upon the rights of pastors and sessions to decide such matters.

Rightmyer called those concerns unintended consequences and said he believes fears about them contributed to the amendment's defeat.

Related Elsewhere

This is an edited version of the full Presbyterian News Service article.

Presbyweb, a weblog/news site, has been reporting the vote and posting other articles related to Amendment O with near-obsessive vigilance.

The Christianity Today Weblog noted the vote in its March 15 edition.

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