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Christianity and LGBT Equality

A Movement Forty Years in the Making

Since the advent of the modern gay rights movement, Christians have raised their voices for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. We have long looked at discrimination in our culture and wondered how is this injustice consistent with Jesus’ message to love our neighbors as ourselves?

Throughout the years, we found support with other like-minded Christians. Together, we gathered to study, pray, struggle and grow while embarking on a mission to make our churches and communities reflective of the inclusive love Jesus teaches.

Today, forty years after the first openly gay man was ordained in a mainline Christian church, we are a diverse, thriving rainbow representative of the entire Christian faith. We are moms and dads, city dwellers and farmers. We are middle of the road, strictly sidewalk and off the beaten path. Different but alike, we find unity of purpose in our Christian faith: to spread the joy and justice of LGBT equality.

The Movement Today

In the U.S. alone, there are more than 5,000 churches that intentionally embrace the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexaul and transgender people. Four of the United State’s largest Christian denominations, representing some 10 million people, have passed inclusive policies ranging from statements of LGBT affirmation to LGBT ordination and marriage equality. Other denominations are actively working to pass similar policies in the near future. 

But we are not just raising our voices in church settings. A majority of Christians believe our laws should protect the LGBT community from discrimination. Republican and Democratic politicians alike are invoking their Christian faith as a motivator for endorsing LGBT equality. And through grassroots action, everyday people are helping to make our world a more just and joyous place for all God’s children.

Denominational Policies on LGBT Equality

Believe Out Loud tracks denominational policies on homosexuality and gender identity. The chart below provides a snapshot of where major U.S. denominations currently stand on LGBT affirmation, ordination of LGBT clergy, and marriage equality. The smiley faces indicate a denomination that has policies and practices that are LGBT affirming; the neutral faces indicates a denomination is making progress toward LGBT inclusion or allowing for affirmation on the local level; and sad faces indicate a denomination has policies that are overtly discriminatory.

Even in denominations whose official policies are not LGBT affirming, you will find local congregations that are fully open to the LGBT community. Conversely, individual churches within generally affirming denominations are not always LGBT friendly. When in doubt, use our Welcoming Church Map to find congregations that have intentionally embarked on LGBT affirming ministries. To learn more about each position, hover your cursor over a face icon. 

LGBT Affirmation
LGBT Ordination
Marriage Equality

While the ABC-USA deems homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching," local churches vary. There is a movement led by the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists to further LGBTQ inclusion. 

Ordination is handled on the local level. In many regions, LGBTQ ordination is not explicitly accepted nor banned.  However, in several regions there are statements that a candidate must sign stating they are not a "practicing homosexual" prior to ordination.

In 2005 the ABC-USA General Board affirmed marriage as a relationship between 1 man and 1 woman.  While not binding on local churches, many communities support this statement, while others do not and solemnize same-sex marriages and Civil/Holy Unions.

The Assemblies of God believes that "homosexuality is both a sin against God and mankind."

Does not support ordination of LGBT clergy.

Opposes marriage equality.

While there is diversity of opinion among members, churches and regions, the DOC has affirmed LGBT civil rights. There is a movement led by the GLAD Alliance to further LGBT inclusion.

Varies by region, but LGBT clergy can be called and ordained. 

Leaves the choice up to each clergy person; there are DOC clergy who perform same-gender unions and marriages.

In a 2004 statement, the COGIC stated that "homosexual practices of same-sex couples are in violation of religious and social norms and are aberrant and deviant behavior."

No official position, although the church condemns homosexuality.

Believes only heterosexual couples are entitled to be married.

The LDS Church considers homosexual behavior a sin that can be overcome, although increasing numbers of Mormons are coming out in support of LGBT equality and on local levels many church leaders are carefully working toward inclusion.

Only men who have agreed not to have sex with anyone but their wives may become priests.

The LDS church has been a vocal opponent of marriage equality, but there is an active grassroots movement led by Mormons for Marriage Equality that is working for LGBTQ justice.

Considers "homsexual lifestyle sinful and contrary to the Scriptures."

Does not support ordination of LGBT clergy.

Opposes and actively works against marriage equality.

While the Community of Christ affirmed sexual orientation in its '92 Human Diversity resolution, local welcome varies; there is a LGBTQ-affirming movement led by The Welcoming Community Network.

Allowed, if not in a same-gender relationship; there is an active movement to open the priesthood to LGBTQ persons who are married/partnered.

Currently does not support marriage equality but there is an active movement toward allowing priesthood members to perform same-gender unions.

The Episcopal Church General Convention has passed multiple statements affirming LGBT people, although support varies by diocese and congreation. IntegrityUSA advances LGBT-inclusion throughout the EC.

The Episcopal Church ordained its first openly gay priest in 1989 and in 1994 passed a resolution that affirmed LGB persons could be ordained. In 2012, the Church gave full protection to trans people entering the ordination process.

In 2009, the Episcopal General Convention made room for Bishops to permit priests to marry/bless same-gender couples; today 19 dioceses permit priests to do so. in 2012, the Church adopted an official rite of blessing for same-sex couples.

Since 1991, the ELCA has repeatedly passed resolutions welcoming LGBT persons; ReconcilingWorks is an active organization working to promote LGBT affirmation and equality in the ELCA.

The ELCA allows and recognizes the ordination of LGBT individuals. 

As a national church, the ELCA neither authorizes nor prohibits pastors from recognizing and performing same-gender unions and marriages; the decision to do so rests with local churches/individual pastors.

This branch of the Quakers is LGBT welcoming and affirming.

While Friends do not have clergy in the traditional sense, FGC affirms LGBT leaders.

Decided at the local level, but this branch of the Quakers overwhelmingly supports marriage equality.