(CNN) — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will permit pastors to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal, the church said on its Twitter account Thursday.
To become church law, the change would need to be approved by a majority of 172 local presbyteries.
“The church affirmed all its faithful members today. This vote is an answer to many prayers for the Church to recognize love between committed same-sex couples,” said Alex McNeill, executive director at More Light Presbyterians, a group that supports gay rights.
“We will keep praying that the majority of our 172 presbyteries will confirm that all loving couples can turn to their churches when they are ready to be married.”
The presbyteries have a year to vote on the change, according to Kathy Melvin, a church spokeswoman.
Close to half of the clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) work in areas where same-sex couples can legally marry.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 U.S states and the District of Columbia: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
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