Church of Scotland to draft new laws to allow same-sex marriages in church
The Church of Scotland has voted to redraft the church’s existing rules on same-sex marriage, potentially allowing gay people and lesbians to be married in their churches.
On Sunday, the Church voted to write new laws which if passed would allow ministers to conduct same-sex marriages in the country.
The measure, proposed by Reverend Bryan Kerr, passed in the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly with 345 votes to 170.
Non-religious same-sex marriage was legalised in Scotland in 2014, however, the Church of Scotland is yet to allow their ministers to conduct same-sex ceremonies despite much discussion.
Prior to the vote on Sunday, Reverend Tom Gordon told iNews: “I have two daughters, both of whom are married. I have one gay daughter in a same-sex marriage.
“When my older daughter got married she had a choice – to ask me to conduct her service as a minister or for me to walk her down the aisle as her dad.
“But when my younger daughter got married, she had no such choice. Give people a choice – allow their marriage to be conducted by a minister. With God’s blessing.”
In 2016, the Church voted to allow ministers themselves to be in same-sex marriages.
However, some in the Assembly – which only meets once a year – expressed concerns that any amendments to the preexisting law would require safeguards for ministers who did not wish to perform same-sex ceremonies.
An amendment was made to the draft bill that states in its current form that safeguards for these ministers would be put in place in any future legislation.
However, there may be a considerable wait before Church of Scotland ministers can marry same-sex couples.
The proposed laws will now go to the legal questions committee of the General Assembly which has two years to respond to the vote, with a final report of the laws expected to be given in 2021.
Same-sex marriages in Scotland have already been conducted by the Scottish Episcopal Church, the first Anglican branch of Churches to do so in the UK.
The Scottish Episcopal Church, which is not bound by the same rules as the Church of Scotland, faced harsh criticism in 2017 from the global Anglican Communion for permitting the first same-sex marriage in a Scottish church.
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The Episcopal Church is the Scottish version of the Anglican Church of England, as opposed to the Church of Scotland, which is a distinct Presbyterian branch of Christianity.
The head of the US Episcopal Church, who has also been sanctioned previously for embracing same-sex marriage, made headlines on Saturday for his lively speech at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
In 2016, the head of the US Episcopal Church faced a backlash from the international Anglican Church for being inclusive of LGBT people.
The US Episcopal Church has welcomed gay members for years, even appointing openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.
However, the church provoked the wrath of hardline churches within the Communion by voting in 2015 to embrace equal marriage.