Religious Leader Defies Church to Conduct Gay Marriage Ceremonies

A Presbyterian minister on Long Island is bucking church protocol by saying she will marry same-sex couples.

The Rev. Elizabeth Simpson of the First Presbyterian Church of Glen Cove told WCBS radio that she will marry one of the same-sex couples that attend the church next March.

“I will make myself vulnerable to accusations or indictments, so to speak, from within the Presbytery,” she said, according to the radio station.

Simpson further added that the congregation approves of the decision and that it “isn’t even a question for most of our people.”

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) approved the ordination of gay clergy in 2010, after a long internal battle that lasted several years, by a vote of 373-323 at the General Assembly. That change took effect this year after a majority of the presbyteries ratified the measure, and according to the Presbyterian News Service, around 100 conservative-leaning congregations have defected from the organization due to the ruling.

However, the General Assembly, in the same session last year, voted against approving gay marriage, which could lead to Simpson and other Presbyterian ministers who perform gay marriage ceremonies being defrocked.

Several major Christian denominations have voted in recent years to allow non-celibate gays to serve as clergy if they are in committed relationships. Among them are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the U.S. Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ. Only two denominations, the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, have explicitly sanctioned gay marriage in its churches.

New York became the sixth state to legalize gay marriage after it was approved by the state Senate by a vote of 33-29 last month. The law goes into effect July 24.

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