Statement following General Synod 2015

Changing Attitude Scotland welcomes recent decisions taken by the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church to begin the process of exploring canonical change for marriage equality within the Church.

After fruitful and generous debate on the options for maintaining the status quo or making changes to the relevant Canon Law, members of General Synod expressed a clear preference for removing in its entirety the doctrinal definition of marriage which is presently contained within Canon 31 and which was inserted in 1980. The subsequent request to the Faith and Order Board to prepare the legislation was passed by 110 votes to 9 against. In doing so, the church has affirmed the principle that the doctrine of the Scottish Episcopal Church is better expressed in its liturgies than in canon law

Members of the General Synod also requested a conscience clause to be added into Canon 31, making explicit the position that no cleric would be obliged to solemnise any marriage that they felt was against their conscience.

In a press release on Friday, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, said: “General Synod has taken two important steps forward today. We have decided that we wish to consider possible change to our marriage canon. We have identified one possible expression of that change. This potentially creates a situation in which same-sex marriages could be celebrated in churches of the Scottish Episcopal Church.”

The new legislation will be presented for first reading to General Synod 2016, with a second reading and a final vote requiring a two-thirds majority in each House at General Synod 2017.

There is work yet to be done, but we rejoice in the decisive step that has been taken and the change that we now see. We have witnessed the changing of hearts and minds, the bursting open of closet doors, and a strong will to celebrate our diversity and to be gracious and kind in the face of our disagreements. At every stage of this process, we have seen the Church make clear decisions that will guide it in the way of greater equality and justice whilst allowing space for those who disagree with one another.