08 June 2017, The Tablet

Scottish Episcopal Church permits gay marriage in historic vote

Scottish Anglican ministers wishing to conduct same-sex weddings will have to 'opt-in'

The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) has voted to allow gay couples to marry in church making it in the first mainstream Christian church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages.

The vote to amend canon law on marriage, removing the stipulation that it is between a man and a woman, was carried by the Synod in Edinburgh on Thursday (8 June) afternoon.

The historic move means that gay Christians from any Anglican Church can now ask to be married in a Scottish Anglican Church.

Scottish Anglican ministers wishing to conduct same-sex weddings will have to 'opt-in.'

The church said this meant that those who disagreed with gay marriage would be protected and not have to act against their conscience.

The motion needed to be passed by a two thirds majority across the three 'houses' of synod - the bishops, clergy and laity. Bishops voted by 4-1 (80 per cent) for it, the clergy by 42-20 (67 per cent) and the laity by 50-12 (80 per cent).

Following the vote, Primus of the SEC, Most Rev David Chillingworth, said: 

"A new chapter opens up and inclusion takes a particular form. This new canon affirms there are different understandings of marriage in our church."

"We affirm we are a church of diversity and difference bound together by our unity in Christ," he added.

The decision is likely to leave the church at odds with most of the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Same sex marriage became legal in Scotland at the end of 2014 but the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church opposed the move.

The issue has provoked passionate debate within the Anglican Communion. In January 2015, the communion sanctioned the US Episcopal Church when it decided to allow gay marriage in church.

Yet, last month the Church of Scotland voted to approve a report which could allow ministers to conduct same-sex weddings in the future. And in February, a report opposing gay marriage was opposed by the Church of England's Synod.

PICTURE: Activists from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement outside the General Synod at Church House in London in February of this year 

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