Scottish Episcopal Church Votes to Allow Gay Marriage

Scottish Episcopal Church Votes to Allow Gay Marriage

Gay couples could be married in Scottish churches within a year after the Scottish Episcopal Church voted in favour of allowing its clergy to preside over same-sex weddings.

The Church of Scotland (which is Presbyterian rather than Episcopalian) last month approved the process of consideration of same-sex weddings, the most important stage of which would be a vote by the general assembly next year.

Same-sex couples will be able to marry in some churches in Scotland after religious authorities on Thursday agreed to change texts stating marriage is between a man and a woman, the first such move for a major Christian church in Britain.

The revised canon "permits those clergy who, on the grounds of conscience, wish to conduct the marriages of same sex couples, to seek nomination to do so; it also allows that there will be those who, on the grounds of conscience, will not seek such nomination".

Same sex marriage has been legal in Scotland since 2014 but most churches deny conducting such ceremonies.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has voted to back same-sex marriage, making it the first Anglican church in the United Kingdom to do so. Last year Pope Francis released a report on the importance of the family which affirmed the Church's opposition to gay equality and same-sex marriage. Only Aberdeen and Orkney opposed changing the church's stance.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said: "This is a departure from the faith and teaching upheld by the overwhelming majority of Anglican provinces on the doctrine of marriage".

At the general synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, over two-thirds of each house of bishops, clergy and laity voted in favour of the change.

The step we have taken today is a momentous one. "The Churches of the Anglican Communion are autonomous and free to make their own decisions on canon law".

The decision puts the Church at odds with most of the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and some members condemned the proposed changes during the preceding debate.

He went on: "As Secretary General, I want the churches within the Anglican Communion to remain committed to walking together in the love of Christ and to working out how we can maintain our unity and uphold the value of every individual in spite of deeply-held differences".

The approval of same-sex marriage by the church was praised by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights groups.

"Rather than correcting and disciplining those who have departed from the biblical faith and practice which has been handed down to us from the Apostles, some church leaders are embracing false teaching, and then going even further by promoting it around the world". For them this new chapter will feel like an exclusion - as if their church has moved away from them. "However this is a matter on which there is real and profound disagreement in the Church of England", the spokesperson said.

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