The Scottish Episcopal Church has officially voted in favor of amending the canon law of marriage and allowing same-sex couples to marry in church.
The vote opened the doors of the Scottish Episcopal Church to any gay Christians from any Anglican Church who want to get married. Ministers who are willing to officiate gay marriage ceremonies will be required to "opt-in," the BBC details.
The Synod voted to remove the stipulation in the definition of marriage as a ceremony between a man and a woman, but allowed protection for those who do not agree with gay marriage. This makes the Scottish Episcopal Church the United Kingdom's first major church to approve same-sex marriage.
"I am very pleased for the couples who can now have their relationships recognised by the church and blessed by God," said Right Reverend Dr. John Armes, the Episcopal Church's Bishop of Edinburgh. "I'm also pleased for what this means about our church and the way we have been able to do this. But obviously any change like this creates pain and hurt in some as well, so as a bishop of the church I feel for them."
For Archbishop Foley Beach, the Scottish Episcopal Church's landmark decision shows the need to listen to the voice of Scots who feel marginalized in the society. He said a faithful Christian will not be able to support the move to redefine marriage.
Meanwhile, many Christians in Northern Ireland lamented the Church of Scotland's decision to soften its stance on same-sex marriage. A representative for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland told the Belfast Telegraph that they will continue to oppose same-sex marriage.
The statement comes after the General Assembly in Scotland voted to support a study that would look into new legislation that would allow ministers and deacons to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. The said study will be further discussed by the General Assembly next year.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland, on the other hand, stands firm with the Bible's teaching on marriage as a ceremony exclusive between a man and a woman. The church has also expressed its opposition to the Scottish Assembly's increasingly liberal stance by voting against sending its Moderator to the assembly.