Scottish Episcopal Church to allow same-sex weddings

Michele Moreno
June 9, 2017

The vote at the Scottish Episcopal church general synod makes it the first Anglican church in the United Kingdom to allow same sex weddings, with the first ceremony likely to take place this autumn.

The vote was carried out by the Synod in Edinburgh, and required the support of at least two-third members of each of the houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity.

It includes details of the nominating procedure by which a cleric wishing to conduct a same-sex marriage in church should seek approval from the Registrar General, who is responsible for the registration of births, deaths, and marriages in Scotland.

In February this year, campaigners hailed a decision by the Church of England's ruling body to throw out a controversial report on same-sex marriage as "a victory for love and equality".

Jayne Ozanne, a leading campaigner for LGBT rights within the Church of England, said she was "thrilled that the Scottish Episcopal church has chosen to take this fearless and momentous step in enabling same sex marriage".

The vote by the General Synod in Edinburgh changed the church's canon law to remove a doctrinal clause defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

In practice, the results far exceeded the minimum, with 80% of bishops voting in favour, 80.6% of laity, and 67.7% of clergy.

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.

They voted in favor of removing the note that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The Anglican Communion's position on human sexuality is set out very clearly in Resolution 1.10 agreed at the Lambeth conference of 1998 and will remain so unless it is revoked.

Despite opposing the legalisation of gay marriage in Scotland in 2014, last month the Kirk's General Assembly backed a report which could lead to same-sex weddings being performed in churches. Today's decision by the SEC to approve changes to canon law on marriage is not a surprise, given the outcome of the vote at its Synod a year ago.

Archbishop Foley Beach, a senior figure in the group, said: "Today's decision by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change the biblical and historic definition of marriage has highlighted the need to respond to the cries and pleas of those Scots who today have been marginalized by their leaders".

A spokesperson for the Church of England said that the decision had been noted.

Rev Canon Ian Ferguson, of the Aberdeen diocese, said that if the motion was passed it would be "one of the saddest and most painful days" in the history of the Church, describing it as a "broken" institution.

"Changing our doctrine of marriage is a schismatic move that will cause serious harm to our unity and future relationship with our sisters and brothers throughout the Anglican Communion".

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