The “separation of church and state” is a phrase that describes the relationship between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, and it certainly applies to marriage and divorce. Residents of New York can be married under the law and under the eyes of God.
In situations involving same-sex spouses, church and state have not exactly been on the same page. Religious denominations, including the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church, amongst others, have moved to allow their clergy to perform same-sex marriage. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recently joined those on the list.
This past month, the Presbyterian denomination voted to amend its own constitution. The proposed amendment would alter the definition of marriage by eliminating the words “a man and a woman” and replacing them with “two people.”
The vote was held on Tuesday, March 17, at the Presbytery of the Palisades in New Jersey. Representatives from the 171 regional presbyteries gathered to vote. With 42 presbyteries left to vote, the required majority count had already been reached with 87 in favor of the amendment.
Reverend William Blake Spencer is one of the ministers who began calling the day “liberation day.” Prior to that Tuesday, ministers who chose to go against the constitution and marry members of the same sex could be prosecuted and convicted under the laws of the church.
Source: The New York Times, “Largest Presbyterian Denomination Gives Final Approval for Same-Sex Marriage,” Laurie Goodstein, March 17, 2015
The New York Times, “Largest Presbyterian Denomination Gives Final Approval for Same-Sex Marriage,” Laurie Goodstein, March 17, 2015