LONDON — The Church of Scotland has voted to let its ministers enter same-sex marriages — though saying it “maintains its traditional view of marriage between a man and woman.”
Its general assembly, meeting in Edinburgh, voted Saturday to allow congregations to “opt out” from traditional teaching if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same-sex marriage.
However, Church of Scotland clergy will not be allowed to conduct same-sex weddings. A debate on whether to sanction gay marriages within the church won’t be held until the church’s Theological Forum presents a report next year.
Gay marriage has been a divisive issue for religious groups around the world. Scotland’s official church is a Presbyterian denomination with about 400,000 members.
Historically Protestant and Presbyterian, the Church of Scotland is the country’s national church, and is often referred to by its Scots language name, “the Kirk.” As of December 2013, its pledged membership was around 7.5 percent of the national population, although census figures indicate that a much larger share of Scots claim some affiliation with the church.
In March 2015, the Presbyterian Church in the United States voted to amend its constitution to permit gay marriage.
In 2010, American Presbyterians voted to allow the ordination of partnered gays and lesbians, and in 2011, the church opted to allow gays and lesbians to serve in other roles as well, although it’s based on the principle of home rule and is not mandated for all congregations.
(Crux staff contributed to this report.)