Although gays and lesbians increasingly entered the mainstream of American society in the 1990s, their welcome was distinctly muted among broad sectors of the culture, particularly within religious institutions. Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish communities struggled to respond to the insistent demands from their homosexual members for recognition of their needs and contributions. When these demands included the recognition of same-sex marriages and the ordination of homosexual women and men, however, most mainstream churches retreated. New scientific theories further countered traditional definitions of homosexuality. Studies by the UCLA School of Medicine indicated that the brain structure of homosexual males differs from those of heterosexuals. The National Cancer Institute Laboratory of Biochemistry found evidence that male homosexuality may be inherited, and scientists at the National Institute of Health believed they found evidence that homosexuality is carried in DNA. This evidence, while not conclusive and dealing entirely with males, suggested that sexual orientation is inborn rather than chosen. These arguments were greeted by some Jews and Christians as yet more evidence of scientific hostility to religion; others reacted with relief, as the new information was seen as a means of offsetting the biblical statements on homosexuality.
Sacraments. In 1998 the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church stated that same-sex marriages were not endorsed by the Church and that pastors who presided over such ceremonies could suffer the loss of their clerical status. American Episcopalians were forced to deal directly with the issue when Bishop John Shelby Spong of Newark , New Jersey, presented "A Statement in Koinonia" to the 1994 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. He argued that, whatever one's sexual orientation, sexuality is itself morally neutral, and nothing in Scripture prevents a homosexual relationship from being any less holy than a heterosexual one.