A Scottish church has taken a step towards allowing the first gay marriages to be solemnised in church since the provision was made law more than a year ago.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Scotland since December 31, 2014, and it looks as though the first gay couples to wed in a church could be Episcopalian, although this could still take until 2017.

The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland is opposed to gay marriage, and the Church of Scotland is moving to address the issue of same-sex marriage among ministers as well as examining any future solemnisation of gay Kirk weddings.

Loading article content

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church said it has voted to begin a process for change in relation to its canon on marriage.

A spokeswoman said it has "therefore instructed the Church's Faith and Order Board to begin the two year process which may lead towards canonical change".

"That change would potentially allow the marriage of same gendered couples in Church in late 2017."

General Synod also decided to add a conscience clause that ensures that no cleric would be obliged to solemnise a marriage against their conscience.

Same-sex weddings are forbidden by Episcopalian law that states marriage is between one man and one woman.

A review by the church's doctrine committee suggested that theological grounds may exist to bless marriage between lesbians and homosexuals.

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: "Our 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.

"That would also allow our clergy to enter into same-sex marriages.

"It is important to realise that at this point this is an indicative decision only.

"Any change to the canon will require the normal two year process and two thirds majorities will be required.

"That process will begin at General Synod 2016 and cannot be complete until General Synod 2017."

General Synod also decided to add a conscience clause that ensures that no cleric would be obliged to solemnise a marriage against their conscience.

The option which Synod voted on removal of section one of Canon 31 which states: 'The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God."

The Scottish Episcopal Church is one of the global provinces and churches which make up the membership of the Anglican Communion across the world.