LONDON, June 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - 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.
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.
Britain legalised same-sex marriage in 2014 but no major
Christian church had so far allowed same-sex weddings.
This opens the way for gay Christians from any Anglican
Church to marry in Scotland - but puts the Scottish church at
odds with the rest of the world's Anglican community.
"This is a momentous step," David Chillingworth, head of the
Scottish Episcopal Church, told the gathering after the vote.
"By removing gender from our marriage canon, our church now
affirms that a same-sex couple are not just married but are
married in the sight of God."
The approval of same-sex marriage by the church was praised
by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights groups.
"This step allows couples to celebrate their love within
their faith and sends a really positive message to other LGBT
people, both here and around the world," Colin Macfarlane,
director of LGBT charity Stonewall Scotland, told the Thomson
"It signals that members of the church welcome, recognise
and respect LGBT people as part of the faith community."
Chillingworth said the ruling was not unanimous and no
member of the clergy would be made to preside over same-sex
weddings against their will.
The Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church
opposed Britain's decision to allow same-sex marriages.
"This same decision is difficult and hurtful for others
whose integrity in faith tells them that this decision is
unscriptural and profoundly wrong," he said.
The wider Anglican communion, which has 85 million members
worldwide and is headed by Britain's Archbishop of Canterbury
Justin Welby, has been in crisis since 2003 because of arguments
over sexuality and gender between liberal member churches in the
West and their conservative counterparts, mostly in
The Anglican communion last year slapped sanctions on one of
its liberal member churches in the United States, the Episcopal
Church, for supporting same-sex marriage.
(Reporting by Anna Pujol-Mazzini @annapmzn, Editing by Belinda
Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news,
women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and
resilience. Visit news.trust.org)