GA 2010: Assembly directs BOP to provide benefits for same-gender partners

MINNEAPOLIS — After a long discussion, with many questions about the financial implications, the 219th General Assembly voted today (July 9) directing the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to provide benefits to the same-gender spouses and domestic partners of church employees and their children on the same basis as it provides benefits to employees who are married.

            To achieve that, the Board of Pensions intends to raise dues by no more than 1 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2012, according to its president, Rob Maggs. And the assembly urged the Board of Pensions to provide a mechanism for relief of conscience for congregations “for whom these actions cause a moral dilemma.”

            Some characterized the proposal as a matter of justice for church employees in same-gender partnerships; others as a matter of justice for small congregations struggling with finances. For a congregation paying its pastor $30,000 a year, the increase would amount to an extra $300 in dues, said Andy Browne of the Board of Pensions staff.

            The assembly voted 366-287 to extend the benefits, during a report of the assembly’s Committee on the Board of Pensions, Foundation and Publishing Corporation.

            The assembly also confirmed the election of Thomas Taylor as president and chief executive officer of the Foundation.