Episcopal Church Backs Gay Marriage

8 June 2017, 17:49 | Updated: 8 June 2017, 17:50

Wedding Rings

The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) has voted 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.

Under the terms of the vote, clergy who do not wish to preside over same-sex weddings will not be compelled to do so "against their conscience''.

The historic decision makes the SEC the first branch of the Anglican faith in the UK to allow same-sex marriage.

Equal-rights campaigners were quick to welcome the decision.

However, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said the vote puts the Scottish Episcopal Church at odds with the majority stance within the Anglican Communion.

In approving the proposal, 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 "conscience clause'' which states: "In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this church, no cleric of this church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience.''

A two-thirds majority was required in each house of Bishops, Clergy and Laity for the measure to be accepted.

The proposal was passed with 80% support from the Bishops and Laity, while 67% of the Clergy backed the move.

A first reading of the motion to amend Canon 31 was passed by the General Synod in 2016 and it returned for its second and final reading this year.

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