Church of Scotland clarifies ‘there are no plans to stop weddings’ over same-sex marriage dispute

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Clarifying a statement made earlier today that the Church of Scotland was reviewing “whether it’s worth continuing to offer marriages in Scotland,” the Church has said it is not in fact stopping weddings, but is simply exploring the “way it should continue” celebrating marriages.

In a press statement, the Church of Scotland said there were no plans for it to stop conducting marriages.

Convener of the Legal Questions Committee Rev Dr Alan Hamilton said: “Marriage is a binding force for good and will continue to be so for many years and generations to come.”

Mr Hamilton was responding after today’s meeting with the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament where the Church of Scotland spoke to and gave its stance on proposed legislation which would legalise same-sex marriages

He said: “As the largest provider of religious marriages in the country, more than 5,500 in 2012, we hold to the historical understanding held by most Christians around that world that marriage is between one man and one woman.

“As politicians consider the bill, the Church of Scotland asks for space for itself and for its ministers to decide whether to celebrate same-sex marriages.

“We are simply urging that any legislation if approved is robust enough to protect those who in conscience will not want to conduct such ceremonies.”

The Scottish National Party (SNP) is currently in the process of pushing same-sex marriage legislation through the Scottish Parliament where it has cross party support.

Under the plans religious bodies would have to opt into performing same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Earlier today, Reverend Alan Hamilton said he was “concerned” that this is an “invitation to take religious bodies in particular through the court system.”

He added: “We are voluntary bodies. We rely upon the donations of our members, and the thought of years of exhausting legal challenge, which is also incredibly expensive, is really very concerning.”

The Scottish Parliament held its first evidence session on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill last week.

The inquiry into the Bill is being undertaken by the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee who will hear evidence from a wide range of stakeholders in the coming weeks, before making recommendations to the Scottish Parliament on whether to proceed with the Bill and, if so, in what form.

Last month, The Free Church of Scotland, who are opposed to equal marriage, called on the Scottish Government to include a conscience clause giving greater protections to celebrants who disagree with marrying same-sex couples.