ST. LOUIS (AP) — The United Methodist Church, America’s second-largest Protestant denomination, faces a likely surge in defections and acts of defiance after delegates at a crucial conference Tuesday rejected a move to ease the faith’s ban on same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBT clergy.
Some supporters of greater LGBT inclusion were in tears, while others vented their anger after delegates, on a 449-374 vote, defeated a proposal that would have let regional and local church bodies decide for themselves on gay-friendly policies.
“Devastation,” was how former Methodist pastor Rebecca Wilson of Detroit described her feelings. “As someone who left because I’m gay, I’m waiting for the church I love to stop bringing more hate.”
Delegates then took up a competing measure, known as the Traditional Plan, that would tighten enforcement of the LGBT bans and encourage Methodists who oppose those policies to leave the church. It won majority support in a preliminary vote on Monday.