DETROIT, June 19 (UPI) -- The largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States voted today to allow its clergy to perform same-sex marriages, making it one of the largest sects of Christianity in America to shed the "one man, one woman" doctrine.
Seventy-six percent of the of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America's General Assembly voted in favor of same sex marriages. Church leadership also changed language in the faith's Book of Order to replace references to "a man and a woman" with the nondiscriminatory "two persons."
"This vote is an answer to many prayers for the church to recognize love between committed same-sex couples," said Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, according to ReligionNews.com. McNeill spearheaded the fight for same-sex marriage within the church.
"The gospel is about fairness," Seattle ruling elder Nathan Sobers told USA Today. Sobers is married to his male partner of 27 years.
"Jesus never said a word about loving same-sex couples...His message was about love, about celebrating God's love for everybody, not just for those who are like me, but for everybody. We can't show that love to the world if we can't show that love to ourselves in our church"
Not all Presbyterians celebrated the church's official acceptance of the LGBT community, with the anti-gay Presbyterian Lay Committee saying the group "mourns these actions and calls on all Presbyterians to resist and protest them."
"You should refuse to fund the General Assembly, your synod, your presbytery and even your local church if those bodies have not explicitly and publicly repudiated these unbiblical actions. God will not be mocked and those who substitute their own felt desires for God's unchangeable Truth will not be found guiltless before a holy God."
The General Assembly is unwavered, fearing the hypocrisy of a homophobic doctrine handcuffs the Presbyterian Church from being a legitimate faith in an increasingly tolerant America.
"I fear that our church brand is in jeopardy," public relations professional Margaret Blankers warned the General Assembly.
"Some question the relevance of church they see is not living up to its reputation for fairness. Do we really want to be known for not accepting and embracing our LGBT brothers and sisters?"
The Presbyterian Church joins the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ as the only major American sects of Christianity to denounce excluding homosexuals from marrying.