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This afternoon in Pittsburgh, the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. rejected legislation to redefine marriage as between “two people” instead of between “one man and one woman,” 338-308, or 52% to 48%. However, the Assembly also rejected an attempt to reaffirm the traditional definition of marriage.

There was widespread surprise over the defeat of redefining marriage. Arguments against it by a handful of overseas and ethnic voices were especially forceful.

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Debates regarding further sexuality issues will continue later tonight, including potential permission for clergy to conduct same sex unions in states where legal.

The church’s specific prohibition on clergy being sexually active outside traditional marriage collapsed two years ago, prompting an exodus of congregations and the founding of a new denomination. Recognizing same sex marriage would accelerate those departures.