United Church of Christ endorses same-sex marriage, largest Christian denomination to do so

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

In a meeting on Monday in Atlanta, Georgia, the United Church of Christ overwhelmingly approved a resolution supporting same-sex marriage, therefore becoming the largest Christian denomination to do so. UCC has over 6,000 congregations and 1.3 million members.

In a press conference, Rev. John H. Thomas said, "On this July Fourth the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has acted courageously to declare freedom, affirming marriage equality, affirming the civil rights of same gender couples to have their relationships recognized as marriages by the state, and encouraging our local churches to celebrate and bless those marriages."

Thomas also acknowledged that the issue of marriage equality is "the source of great conflict" not only in society but also in the churches. The UCC, he said, "is no exception" and "there are clearly great differences among our own members over this."

The decision is non-binding but asks member churches to consider wedding policies "that do not discriminate against couples based on gender" and support laws granting equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

Some member churches have suggested they may leave the denomination but most members appeared to support the resolution noting some ministers already perform same-sex ceremonies.

UCC was criticized last year for creating a television commercial including a gay couple being excluded from a church. The 30-second ad was rejected by most TV networks.