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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

The SDA Church believes homosexuality is a sin.

The SDA does not ordain openly LGBT clergy.

The SDA opposes marriage equality.

The SBC believes homosexuality is a sin and actively promotes discrimination in both its churches and society.

The SBC believes homosexuality is a sin; does not ordain openly LGBT clergy.

The SBC opposes and actively works against marriage equality

The UUA actively affirms the LGBT community and works for LGBT equality. 

The UUA recognizes and ordains opnely LGBT clergy.

The UUA recognizes and allows clergy to perform same-gender marriages and unions. They actively work for marriage equality.

The UCC actively affirms the LGBT community and works for LGBT equality, although local congregations vary in support. The UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns is a grassroots group growing the number of open and affirming UCC churches, which now number more than 1,000.

In 1972, the UCC ordained the first openly gay pastor in a mainline denomination; they recognize and ordain openly LGBT clergy.

The UCC recognizes and allows clergy to perform same-gender marriages and unions; decision to do so rests with individual clergy. Actively works for marriage equality.

While UMC policy holds that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching," the denomination explicitly states that gays and lesbians are of sacred worth. There is an active grassroots movement, led by the Reconciling Ministries Network, to promote LGBT affirming policies and congregations.

Though policy forbids ordination of "self avowed practicing homosexuals," there is movement in key regions around the country to change this policy. In 2012, U.S. delegates voted to allow LGBT ordination; unfortunately, international delegates (also required for policy change) voted against, leaving the discriminatory policy intact.

While policy forbids UMC clergy from performing same-gender unions/marriages, hundreds of UMC pastors have actively voiced their commitment to marry all. In various regions around the country (WA, MN, NY and New England), UMC annual conferences have voted to endorse marriage equality and/or oppose limiting the freedom to marry. 

Unity actively affirms the LGBT community. 

Unity recognizes and ordains openly LGBT clergy.

Unity recognizes and allows clergy to perform same-gender unions/marriages.