Church of Scotland votes to allow same-sex marriages

Ministers will now be able to opt in to marry gay and lesbian couples

Updated on 24 May 2022 • Written By Lawrence Calman-Grimsdale

Church of Scotland votes to allow same-sex marriages

In a pivotal 274 to 136 vote, the Church of Scotland has decided to allow same-sex marriages. As such, the church’s legislation will now read ‘parties’, rather than ‘husband and wife’.

Officiating over same-sex marriages will be a choice given to church leaders. However, many ministers have already applied to register as a celebrant of same-sex marriages.

Same-sex marriage itself was legalised in Scotland in 2014, which allowed many same-sex civil partnerships to convert to marriages, and now the Church has followed suit to allow for religious unions.  

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This vote makes the Church of Scotland the largest religious body in the UK that allows gay marriages, overtaking the Methodist Church which made the change last year. The Scottish Episcopal Church, which is Anglican, already voted to approve same-sex marriages back in 2017.

Methodists, Quakers and the United Reformed church already conduct same-sex ceremonies too. The Church of Wales has also said that it may follow suit in the next couple of years, following this nationwide movement towards openness and tolerance. 

Rev Scott Rennie, the first openly gay clergyman in the Church of Scotland, said this about the news:

“Marriage is a wonderful thing. My marriage to my husband, Dave, nurtures my life and my ministry, and frankly, I do not think I could be a minister of this church without his love and support. It is always there in the background. Same-sex marriage is like opposite-sex marriage and it has its joys and sorrows, its glories and its tensions. It’s pretty normal, really.”

Rev Susan Cord took to Twitter, announcing that she had already applied to become a celebrant of same-sex weddings. Many other public figures have welcomed the decision, such as former Scottish party leaders Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale. 

Baroness Davidson tweeted, "Delighted to see that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted for ministers to be able to conduct same-sex weddings."

Ms Dugdale also spoke on the subject, calling it "tremendous news" and "progress".

In other matrimonial news, outdoor civil ceremonies are being legalised for good in England and Wales.