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Presbyterians Approve Gay Marriage In Church Constitution

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Many states -- including Pennsylvania -- allow gay couples to marry under civil law.

But a traditional religious wedding is, of course, up to that particular religion.

Now Presbyterian gay couples can marry in a church, but not every Presbyterian church agrees.

It's hard to miss the East Liberty Presbyterian Church on the skyline, and now that church is leading the way in welcoming gay couples to a traditional marriage service.

"In 2014, we probably had five different weddings here," Rev. Randy Bush told KDKA's Jon Delano. "I know of at least three in the coming months that we will be hosting here and celebrating with the families."

Pastor Bush welcomes the news that the Presbyterian Church USA will change its Book of Order to allow for gay weddings.

"This decision and approving the amendment now makes it a common ruling for the entire denomination," says Bush. "What's important though to stress is that no minister is required to do a same gender wedding."

In other words, it's optional for both the clergy and the lay leadership.

While the East Liberty Presbyterian Church and its pastor will marry gay couples, that's not the case in many other Presbyterian churches. In fact, a majority of Presbyterian churches in this region are not likely to marry gay couples.

In this region, a number of Presbyterys, the governing body for a number of geographically situated churches, voted against changing the Book of Order to allow gay marriage services. That included Presbyterys in Butler-Beaver, Redstone, Kiskiminetas, Shenango and Washington. The Pittsburgh Presbytery in Allegheny County has not yet voted on the issue.

Just two blocks down Highland Avenue from East Liberty Presbyterian is Eastminster Presbyterian where Pastor Paul Roberts will perform only what he calls traditional weddings as outlined in Scripture.

"For Eastminster, we think that it is fairly clear that Jesus and Paul defined marriage as between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage," says Roberts.

Roberts says this issue is strictly one of Scripture.

"It's not that we're anti-gay, anti-homosexual, not that we don't love people, love everyone. It's just that we're saying they're certain rules that the church abides by," he said.

But Bush has a different interpretation of the Bible, and, so far, the Presbyterian Church USA is allowing both versions to flourish, pastor by pastor, church by church.

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

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