Presbyterian Church Makes History, Adopts Official Pro-LGBTQ Stances at Biennial Conference

By Shane Stahl • June 21, 2018 • 2:27 pm

On Wednesday, June 20, the Presbyterian Church took a historic step by voting unanimously to accept three Overtures submitted at their biennial conference in Missouri. The Overtures both celebrate LGBTQ people of faith and speak out against religious freedom being used to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

More Light Presbyterians, the leading LGBTQ movement group within the church, supported the passage of the Overtures, which were as follows:

  • Overture 11-04, On Reclaiming An Historic Reformed Understanding of Religious Liberty: Acknowledges the misuse of the term “religious freedom” in denying basic human rights, and reaffirms that faith and religious liberty cannot be used to discriminate against anyone simply because of who they are.
  • Overture 11-12, Affirming And Celebrating The Full Dignity And Humanity Of People Of All Gender Identities: Acknowledges the church’s past mistake in being unwelcoming to transgender and non-binary individuals, encourages the welcoming and acceptance of all gender identities, and affirms their right to live free from discrimination in any arena; this overture also specifically mentioned the rights of transgender students.
  • Overture 11-13, On Celebrating The Gifts Of People Of Diverse Sexual Orientations And Gender Identities In The Life Of The Church: Apologizes for the church’s previous unwelcoming stance on LGBTQ parishioners, celebrates LGBTQ church pioneers, and states the church will welcome, lift up, and fight for the human rights of all people created in the eyes of God.

Alex Patchin McNeill, Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians, said in a statement:

“This is a historic moment in the Presbyterian Church’s work to be an open and welcoming place for all of its congregants, including LGBTQIA+ worshippers. As a transgender man, and life-long Presbyterian, religion should always be used as a shield, not a weapon; and our faith should serve as a means by which to do good by everyone in our communities. Today’s overtures will allow the Presbyterian Church to advance its commitment to stand in support of dignity for all, and defeat oppression. Religious freedom cannot be used as a license to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people or exempt certain groups from treating all people fairly.”

The Church’s move is in line with growing support in the LGBTQ nondiscrimination movement from religious leaders and congregations around the country. Last year, nearly 1,300 faith leaders signed on to an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which concerned a bakery that refused service to a same sex couple by citing their religious beliefs. The brief stated that religion cannot be used to justify discrimination, and that businesses must be open to all. Furthermore, the weekend before oral argument in the case, more than 100 congregations celebrated the National Weekend of Prayer for LGBTQ Justice.

Freedom for All Americans has worked to amplify the strong support for LGBTQ nondiscrimination among many people of faith. Read impactful stories in our Faith Voices Against LGBTQ Discrimination center.

We are grateful to the Presbyterian Church for making this historic decision to be open and affirming to all LGBTQ peope of faith, and to use their voice to speak out against LGBTQ discrimination, particuarly religious refusals. To read more about why a growing number of people of faith support LGBTQ nondiscrimination, click here.

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