Och aye, ’tis a bonny day for equal rights!
Scotland’s largest protestant church has swept away centuries of tradition and voted to allow gay men and lesbians to become ministers, opening up the prospect of the church allowing civil partnerships for same-sex couples.
The Church of Scotland imposed a temporary moratorium in 2009 on admitting gay and lesbian ministers after Scott Rennie became the first openly gay clergyman in a homosexual partnership to be officially appointed as a minister in the church.
The church’s general assembly, its law-making body, voted on Monday to lift that moratorium, officially officially allowing gay ministers to take on parishes for the first time since its formation 450 years ago.
The general assembly also allowed serving gay and lesbian ministers who have kept their sexuality private to openly declare their sexuality – a proposal bitterly resisted by evangelical and conservative ministers.
In one of the final votes, the general assembly chose by a small majority to lift a parallel ban on ordaining and training people who are in same-sex relationships, and gay and lesbians in civil partnerships. It called for a new report by 2013 on both proposals and on allowing ministers to bless gay and lesbian relationships.
The vote followed official warnings that allowing gay clergy could split the church, forcing traditionalists to resign and join more conservative churches formed after the last great schism, when 474 ministers resigned in 1843.
Well, sez I, if the conservatards want to leave, be off wi’ ’em. They can take the low road; the rest will take the high road. Same thing happened with the Anglicans, and what was the outcome? The conservatives ended up isolating themselves into irrelevance while the mainstream rolled with the changes and wound up the better for it. The world turns, bless it, and those who turn with the world are also blessed.