SIX of the seven diocesan synods of the Scottish Episcopal Church have voted in favour of a proposal to amend canon law to allow clerics to conduct marriages for same-sex couples in church, it was confirmed this week. Only the diocesan synod of Aberdeen & Orkney voted against the change.
A first reading of the motion to remove from Canon 31 the doctrinal statement that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman” was passed by the Church’s General Synod, last year.
The motion was discussed by the seven diocesan synods, and approved by the majority of them on Saturday. A second reading will now be debated during the next sessions of the General Synod, in Edinburgh, from 8 to 10 June. A two-thirds majority must be obtained in the houses of bishops, clergy, and laity for the reading to be passed and the law changed.
A spokeswoman for the General Synod said on Tuesday that the amendment to Canon 31 would include a “conscience clause” to ensure that clerics opposed to the change would not be required to marry couples of the same sex. She also warned that the General Synod’s approval of a first reading was the “first step in a process”, and did not represent a final decision.
Changing Attitude Scotland, a network of friends and members of the LGBT community within the Church, welcomed diocesan support for the proposal, which, the group said, had been “deliberately aimed at respecting the conscience of all in the Church by not forcing anyone to affirm a doctrinal statement about marriage which they disagree with”.
Speaking after the voting concluded on Saturday, the Convener of Changing Attitude Scotland, Dr Beth Routledge, said: “It has been very moving to hear of so many speeches that have affirmed the wish for same-sex couples to be able to walk down the aisles in our churches. We are delighted at the positive votes cast that have supported this change to the canon, and we hope that they point the way to this wish soon becoming the reality of the Church.”