Scottish Episcopal Church passes initial vote in favour of same-sex marriage

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

The Scottish Episcopal Church is on the way to permitting same-sex marriage – after a preliminary vote on the measure passed the General Synod.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Scotland in December last year – but the Church of Scotland, the Catholic Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church all currently remain opposed to equality.

However, the Scottish Episcopal Church – which has warned clergy not to defy rules and begin marrying gay couples – has today taken the first step towards allowing all couples to marry.

After asking its theological doctrine committee to examine the grounds for permitting same-sex weddings, the General Synod today voted on a proposal to change Canon law’s definition of marriage as “a union of one man and one woman”.

Making a change to the Canon is a lengthy, two-year process, meaning that the first weddings will not take place until 2017 at the absolute earliest.

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church said: “Our General Synod has taken two important steps forward today.

“We have decided that we wish to consider possible change to our Marriage Canon. We have identified one possible expression of that change.

“This potentially creates a situation in which Same-Sex marriages could be celebrated in churches of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

“That would also allow our clergy to enter into same-sex marriages. It is important to realise that at this point this is an indicative decision only.

£Any change to the Canon will require the normal two year process and two thirds majorities will be required. That process will begin at General Synod 2016 and cannot be complete until General Synod 2017”

Tim Hopkins of the Equality Network said previously: “We very much welcome that the Scottish Episcopal Church is considering this issue.

“We hope that the synod will move forward on it in a way that respects and supports the diversity of church members, including the diversity of their sexual orientations and gender identities.”

Though none of Scotland’s main churches allow same-sex weddings, the country’s celebrant laws provide more flexibility than in England and Wales – permitting legal Humanist weddings and Pagan weddings, both of which are open to same-sex couples.

The first Pagan wedding took place in January this year, when a gay Hedge Witch couple literally tied the knot in Edinburgh.