The Church of Scotland has responded to last night’s decision of the Scottish Parliament to back equal marriage by saying “marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Yesterday, the Scottish Government’s Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill passed the first of three parliamentary hurdles by 98 votes to 15 with 5 abstentions.

The bill will enter Stage 2, the committee amending stage between December and January, before a final Stage 3 vote is likely to occur in February.

The Church of Scotland responded by saying it would not be changing its position on marriage and that it stands within the “mainstream Christian belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Dr Hamilton, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Legal Questions Committee said: “We also recognise that there is a wide spread of public opinion about whether legalising same-sex marriage is the right thing, and that spread of public opinion is reflected among members of our congregations across the country. One thing is very clear and that is there is not unanimous support for this legislation in Scotland.”

Dr Hamilton added: “As the bill progresses through Holyrood, the Church of Scotland will continue to be a constructive voice in the national debate about it. We would also seek robust and detailed legal assurances and protection for those who do not wish to conduct same-sex marriages as a matter of conscience.

“The Church is conducting a wide-ranging review of marriage but there are no plans on the table for the Church to stop conducting marriages.”

Reverend Scott Rennie of Aberdeen’s Cross Church, who is openly gay, welcomed the vote, telling BBC Scotland: “I think the churches could follow that example, and would do well to.”

He added: “What the Parliament has done is offered us space for people to express both views.

“It’s offered legislation that’s enabling, that allows people to move forward if they want to, but respects and keeps the dignity of those who don’t feel they can.

“I think in terms of public opinion, in 10 years it will be a non issue, I really do.

“And I think in 20 years, 30 years, people will be writing a report saying what on earth was all the fuss about.”