The role of families, women, and sexual minorities
All Protestant churches allow their clergy to marry, in contrast to the Roman Catholic Church. This meant that the families of many members of the Protestant clergy were able to contribute to the development of intellectual elites in their countries from about 1525, when the theologian Martin Luther was married.
Historically, the role of women in church life, the Protestant clergy, and as theologians remained limited. The role of women expanded over time and was closely associated with the movements for universal education and women's suffrage. Political and social movements for suffrage (voting rights) and sobriety (see temperance movement and Prohibition) in the English-speaking world of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were closely associated with Protestant Christian women's organizations.
While particular Protestant churches such as the Methodists involved women as clergy or assistants since the late 1700s, the ordination of women as clergy dates from the 1970s in the Anglican Communion. Since about 1990, many more women have assumed senior leadership roles (e.g. as bishops) in several Protestant churches, including the Anglican Communion and the Church of England.
Since the 1990s Protestant churches have encountered controversy regarding the Church's response to persons of minority sexual orientations. The sometimes divisive nature of these discussions was exemplified by the formation of dissenting groups within the Anglican Communion that rejected reforms that were intended to make the Church more inclusive (see related article Homosexuality and the Anglican Communion).