DETROIT - The top legislative body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has taken major steps toward recognizing gay marriage.
The General Assembly voted Thursday in favor of redefining Christian marriage in the church constitution as the union of "two people," not just "a man and a woman." The redefinition will take effect only if most of the 172 regional Presbyteries approve it in voting over the next year.
The Presbyterian delegates in Detroit also voted to allow pastors starting this weekend to preside at gay weddings in states that recognize same-sex marriage.
In 2011, the church eliminated barriers to ordaining clergy with same-sex partners. Since then, 428 of the denomination's more than 10,000 churches have left for other more conservative denominations or have dissolved. The church now has about 1.8 million members.