The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is to decide this week whether to accept gay clergy in sexually active monogamous relationships.
Currently, gay clergy who are celibate are permitted to serve but those in physical relationships are not.
Church delegates will vote on the issue at a meeting in Minneapolis on Friday. Delegates voted last night to allow the proposal to pass if it reaches a majority, rather than a supermajority of two-thirds.
Phil Soucy, a spokesman for Lutherans Concerned, a pro-gay-rights group within the church, told the Washington Post: “There’s no question about the authority of Scripture. But we certainly can debate the interpretation of Scripture. . . . The very idea that questioning someone else’s interpretation of Scripture constitutes an assault on the authority of Scripture is nonsense.”
Last month, US Anglicans voted to reject a three-year moratorium on consecrating new gay bishops.
Divisions over gay bishops began in 2003, when the openly gay Gene Robinson, of New Hampshire, was consecrated. His appointment caused deep rifts between liberals and traditionalists.
In the last three years, the Anglican Communion has been pushing the Episcopal Church to “restrain” the numbers of gay bishops in order to avoid a split in the Anglican church. No new gay bishops have been consecrated in this time.