The decision was passed in a historic vote (Picture: Getty Images)

The Church of Scotland yesterday gave the green light for ministers to marry
same-sex couples for the first time after a historic vote.

The General Assembly in Edinburgh agreed to change a church law to allow ministers and deacons to become authorised celebrants and conduct same-sex ceremonies.

The decision was passed by 274 votes to 136.

The moderator of the General Assembly, the Right Reverend Dr Iain Greenshields, said: ‘The Church of Scotland is a broad church and there are diverse views on same-sex marriage.

‘There has been a lengthy debate about this for many years at all levels of the church to find a solution that respects diversity and values the beliefs of all.

‘The General Assembly has approved the solemnisation of same sex marriage overture to change a church law to enable ministers and deacons to apply to become authorised celebrants if they wish.

‘No minister or deacon would be required to be involved in the arrangements for a same-sex marriage unless they explicitly wished to do so.’

Reverend Lezley Stewart had told the General Assembly ahead of yesterday’s vote: ‘It is time to say I do. We have always lived with differences and we always will.’

Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields moderated the General Assembly vote (Picture: Andrew O’Brien / PA)

Rev Susan Cord, the minister of Killearnan and Knockbain parishes near Inverness, yesterday announced she has already applied to become a celebrant of same-sex weddings.

She said: ‘There will be colleagues who will decide not to conduct these ceremonies and I respect that.

‘But for me, irrespective of gender, if people love one another and want to show commitment, I want to help them do that.’

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The Covenant Fellowship Scotland, a think tank of evangelicals within the Church, said: ‘This decision contradicts everything the Bible has to say about the complementary nature of men and women, and of the character and purposes of marriage.’

Meanwhile, new figures show the Church of Scotland now has 280,000 members – a fall of 34 per cent in the past decade.

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