- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 28, 2005

ATLANTA (AP) — With a possible historic vote looming on a measure supporting homosexual “marriage,” the head of the United Church of Christ yesterday publicly endorsed the resolution for the first time.

The Rev. John H. Thomas said that the church’s General Synod “should affirm the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender persons” to have unions “equal in name, privileges and responsibilities to married heterosexual couples.”

“I believe our local churches, as they are able, should move toward the development of marriage equality policies,” Mr. Thomas added during a speech at Emory University.

That remark drew a lengthy standing ovation from the audience of about 200.

The same-sex “marriage” resolution is one of three expected to be voted on by the General Synod at its annual meeting this weekend in Atlanta.

If it passes, the church would be the first of the historic mainline Christian denominations to offer support as an official body to homosexual “marriage.”

Church members could also choose to support a “one man, one woman” marriage resolution or a resolution calling for prayer and study of the same-sex “marriage” issue. Recently, backers of the third option endorsed the resolution backing homosexual “marriage” and condemned the “one man, one woman” language as discriminatory.

UCC churches are autonomous, meaning that the General Synod does not create policy for its more than 5,700 congregations.

Mr. Thomas said he was disappointed that some congregations are considering leaving the denomination if the same-sex “marriage” resolution is approved.

The 1.3 million-member United Church of Christ has a history of supporting homosexuals in its denomination, dating to 1972, when it ordained mainline Christianity’s first open homosexual minister and established a homosexual caucus.

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