The United Methodist Church is keeping doctrinal language that calls same-sex relationships "incompatible with Christian teaching."
Methodists took the vote Thursday in their national legislative meeting in Tampa, Fla. Delegates voted by roughly 60 percent to 40 percent to reject proposals that would have softened the language on homosexuality in their Book of Discipline. Gay advocates protested by singing hymns that briefly shut down the assembly.
The denomination has been debating the issue for four decades.
The United Methodist Church has nearly 8 million U.S. members. Their membership inside the U.S. is shrinking, while growing overseas in conservative countries. In debate Thursday, one delegate from Africa compared homosexuality to bestiality.
The meeting, called General Conference, is held once every four years.
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