By a vote of 344-273 (55 percent to 44 percent), the 220th General Assembly (2012) today declined to suspend its standing rules to permit discussion of the confirmation of the Rev. Tara Spuhler McCabe of National Capital Presbytery as the Assembly’s vice-moderator.

A two-thirds majority was required to suspend the rules.

The Assembly then quickly confirmed McCabe’s appointment by moderator the Rev. Neal D. Presa by a vote of 388-240 (a 60-percent majority).

When Presa placed McCabe’s name in nomination, the Rev. Tara Thompson, commissioner from St. Augustine Presbytery, inquired whether it was possible to vote “no,” saying she was concerned about McCabe’s recent signing of a marriage license between two lesbians in Washington, D.C. Same-gender marriage is legal in the nation’s capital.

Thompson said McCabe “ignored the constitution” by signing the marriage license. The PC(USA) Book of Order (W-4.9000) defines marriage as “a civil contract between a man and a woman.” That definition is expected to be hotly debated during the Assembly. Several presbyteries have submitted overtures calling for it to be changed to “between two people.”

McCabe, who most recently served as associate pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., said, “I am a child of this church, born and raised in St. Augustine Presbytery. I felt a constant call from God to ministry and service in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more from you as Neal and I seek the unity of the church.”

Presa had issued a statement reaffirming his choice when McCabe’s action came to light, stating that though he disagreed with her position on same-gender marriage, his trust in her built over a friendship of more than ten years outweighed that disagreement.

He reiterated that position during the moderatorial election question-and-answer session Saturday night, saying, “We live with this tension because of our relationship.”