The nation's largest Presbyterian denomination has rejected a proposal to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies to be performed in the church.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) narrowly defeated a resolution to redefine marriage from a union between a man and a woman to a union between "two people."
The body deliberated the issue for more than three hours on Friday. The final vote was 338-308.
Gay marriage supporters in the denomination will have to wait two years until the church's next national convention to bring the matter up again.
A year ago, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began allowing openly gay clergy to serve as pastors.
Conservative congregations have either left the denomination or moved away from its leadership as a result of that decision.