LONDON: The Scottish Episcopal Church on Friday became the first Anglican Church branch in Britain to take a step toward allowing gay marriage in church.
A gathering of church leaders in Edinburgh voted that a change to remove from its laws the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman should be sent for discussion to the church’s seven dioceses.
The proposed reform would also introduce a “conscience clause” for those ministers who do not want to officiate a same-sex marriage, which has been legal in civil ceremonies in Scotland since 2014.
The changes would then be put to another synod vote in 2017.
The vote at the Scottish Episcopal Church synod passed with support from five out of seven bishops, 69 percent of the clergy and 80 percent of the laity, according to the online journal Christian Today.
In January, the Anglican church on Thursday said it had suspended the US Episcopal Church for three years after it approved ceremonies for same-sex marriages.
The issue has long strained ties within the estimated 85-million-strong Anglican Communion, which includes more liberal members such as the United States and Britain, and conservatives such as Nigeria and Kenya.
In 2014, Anglican leader Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said it would be “catastrophic” if the Church of England, mother church of the Anglican Communion, accepted gay marriage.
He argued that the association could lead to the slaughter of Christians in countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan and South Sudan. AFP