The Church of Scotland has agreed to ordain ministers who are in same-sex civil partnerships, the BBC reports.
Delegates to the church's General Assembly approved the move by a vote of 309 to 183 today in Edinburgh. The vote followed a period of consultation with the church's presbyteries, which had endorsed the change by a margin of 31 to 14. The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian and, despite its name, is not state-controlled.
This means the church "maintains a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to 'opt out' if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same-sex civil partnership," a Church of Scotland spokesman said.
Because the debate over ordaining partnered gay clergy predated the legalization of same-sex marriage in Scotland, which took effect late last year, the General Assembly had to vote first on ordaining ministers in civil partnerships, which were available to same-sex couples before marriage. Thursday, the assembly will consider amending the new policy to include ministers in same-sex marriages.
The church already allowed individual congregations to appoint openly gay clergy, under certain conditions.