The Episcopal is the first of the Anglican churches in the UK to take initial steps towards recognising gay marriage. If the proposals are accepted at the synod next year then same-sex unions will be allowed in Episcopal churches across Scotland.
The church voted at its general synod to change its Canon law governing marriage, removing the doctrinal clause that states marriage is a union only between a man and a woman.
The suggested change will be forwarded to the seven dioceses around Scotland for further discussion, then at next year’s synod will be given the final go ahead.
The change will also include a ‘conscience clause’ allowing ministers who were unhappy with the new policy to opt out of performing same-sex marriages.
This proposal follows last summer’s decision by the Episcopal church in the US to recognise same-sex unions, a move that had them partially suspended from the international Anglican communion.
The Scottish decision to propose acceptance of same-sex unions suggests that the tide is slowly turning on acceptance of gay marriage in the Anglican community. As gay marriage gains increasing international acceptance there is mounting pressure on the various faiths to change policy in line.
Currently, in the UK and Ireland, none of the major faiths recognise same-sex marriage, with the Catholic church in both Ireland and the UK stridently in opposition.
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