Presbyterians approve gay marriage in church constitution

FILE - In this June 19, 2014, file photo, Gary Lyon, left, of Leechburg, Pa., and Bill Samford, of Hawley, Pa., celebrate after a vote allowing Presbyterian pastors discretion in marrying same-sex couples at the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church at Cobo Hall, in Detroit. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved redefining marriage in the church constitution Tuesday, March 17, 2015, to include a "commitment between two people," becoming the largest Protestant group to formally recognize gay marriage as Christian and allow same-sex weddings in every congregation. (AP Photo/Detroit News, David Guralnick, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Louisville, Kentucky-based Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has recognized gay marriage for all of its congregations.

The denomination will expand its definition of marriage in the church constitution to say that marriage is a “commitment between two people.”

The top Presbyterian legislative body endorsed the new wording last year. But amending the constitution required approval from the majority of regional bodies, or presbyteries. The key “yes” vote came Tuesday night from the Presbytery of the Palisades in New Jersey.

The amendment caps decades of church debate over same-sex relationships. The denomination has about 1.8 million members and 10,000 congregations.

Church leaders acknowledged theological differences over marriage within the church and are asking for mutual respect as those disagreements play out. The new definition allows local clergy or congregations to opt out of hosting gay weddings.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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