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Scottish Episcopal Church votes to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies

The “historic” move makes it the first branch of the Anglican faith in the UK to allow same-sex marriage.

The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) has taken the “momentous” decision to allow same-sex couples to be married in church.

A proposal to amend canon law to permit clerics to conduct weddings for gay couples was backed on Thursday at the annual meeting of the church’s General Synod in Edinburgh.

The “historic” move – making it the first branch of the Anglican faith in the UK to allow same-sex marriage – has been welcomed by equal rights campaigners.

However, it puts the Church “at odds” with the majority stance within the Anglican communion and raises the question of whether it could face sanctions as a result.

Church members voted to remove the doctrinal clause which stated that marriage is a “union of one man and one woman”.

It was replaced with a clause which asserts that clergy who do not wish to preside over same-sex weddings will not be compelled to do so “against their conscience”.

The proposal was passed with 80% support from the houses of Bishops and Laity, while 67% of the Clergy backed the move – achieving the required two-thirds majority overall.

Same-sex weddings could be held within the church by the autumn, reports have suggested.

Speaking after the vote, Primus of the SEC, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, said: “This is a momentous step.

“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.”

He acknowledged the decision will be difficult for some and added: “So, the journey which we now begin must also be a journey of reconciliation.”

Colin Macfarlane, director of gay rights charity Stonewall Scotland, voiced delight at the change.

“This step allows couples to celebrate their love within their faith and sends a really positive message to other LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people, both here and around the world,” he said.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion said the SEC’s decision puts it “at odds with the majority stance that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman”.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said: “This is a departure from the faith and teaching upheld by the overwhelming majority of Anglican provinces on the doctrine of marriage.”

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