Efforts to allow sexually active gays and lesbians to serve as clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) were once again defeated according to votes received so far from 158 of the denomination's 173 presbyteries.
On Saturday, the 87th, 88th and 89th votes against deleting a "fidelity and chastity" provision in the PC(USA)'s constitution were tallied, effectively giving opponents of the latest efforts the majority needed overturn a highly contested vote last year.
Last summer, the denomination's General Assembly had voted to remove the requirement for prospective ministers, deacons and elders to live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."
Such a change, however, needed support from a majority of the denomination's presbyteries – support that has fallen short for the fourth time in twelve years.
Previous efforts to delete the provision also failed at the presbytery level in 1998 (55 to 45 percent), in 1999 (66 to 33 percent), and in 2002 (57 to 43 percent).
The final results of this year's vote will be not be known until after all presbyteries have cast their votes. The remaining presbyteries have until June 28 to do so.
Correction: Sunday, April 26, 2009:
An article on Sunday, April 26, 2009, about efforts to allow sexually active gays and lesbians to serve as clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) incorrectly reported the number of votes tallied the day before and the number of times previous efforts failed. According to unofficial voting results compiled by the Presbyterian Coalition, three presbyteries reported no votes on Saturday, not two, and the San Francisco presbytery had reported the 86th "no" vote on April 21. Furthermore, it has been four times, not three, that a majority of the PC(USA)'s presbyteries to date have voted against removing the requirement for prospective ministers, deacons and elders to live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."