10 Unanswered Questions about Same-Sex Marriage

Last week, at the General Synod in Edinburgh, it was announced that the Scottish Episcopal Church is to undergo a process of discussing what were referered to as “same-sex issues”.

I’ve written about this before, and no doubt will do so again.

For today though, here are some of the questions that are running around in my mind, most of which I don’t think were asked last week during General Synod and which I don’t think we have any answers to.

  • Once the Scottish Parliament has completed its legislative process and marriage for same-sex couples is legal in Scotland, what will be the consequences of a priest blessing such a couple in church. (NB – I can already, in some circumstances, bless couples entering into a Civil Partnership)?
  • Will all priests of the Scottish Episcopal Church be subject to the same discipline in this area or will different rules apply in different dioceses?
  • Will a member of the clergy who enters a civil marriage with someone of of the same sex have equality of opportunity in the church or will they automatically be ruled out of some appointments? Will there be parity between dioceses in this area and will the bishops have agreed a common policy?
  • If the Scottish Government were to subsequently proceed to allowing straight couples the possibility of entering a Civil Partnership, what would be the consequence of a member of the clergy entering a civil partnership and living in church-provided accommodation with their partner? Is that an acceptable moral choice in the church?
  • If it is not an acceptable moral church in the church for straight couples to live in a Civil Partnership when they have the opportunity of getting married, what standards apply to same-sex couples who might have a choice much sooner as to whether they live within a civil partnership or get married?
  • Is it acceptable for any member of the clergy to live with someone without having a legally binding committment to that person or not?
  • Is it acceptable (or even legal) for a bishop to refuse a licence to a priest on the grounds of their marital or partner status?
  • Would it be acceptable for a bishop to insist that clergy in same-sex Civil Partnerships should get married to one another once the opportunity arises for them to do so?
  • Does the peculiarly Scottish moratorium against bishops attending Civil Partnership ceremonies still apply and does it extend to civil marriage for some clergy and yet not for others?
  • Would a bishop support a priest who came to the conclusion that as the church has not made up its mind about who may get married, the right thing to do would be to declare a moratorium on marrying anyone (gay or straight) until the process of discussion about what marriage is had been concluded?

I don’t think that any of these questions is a hypothetical question.

Anyone with more questions or any answers?


  1. Having recently re-read the moratoria, I’m very confused about the one on Scottish bishops attending civil partnership ceremonies. It’s tagged onto the end of the one on liturgies for blessing civil partnerships and the wording is that “it is the practice of the individual Bishops neither to give official sanction to such blessings nor to attend them personally”. I am not convinced that that could be held to apply to Bishops other than those who were Bishops in 2009 – it reads more as a statement of fact, this is what we who are present in this room at this time personally do, than as a ban. And that wording doesn’t seem to me to be consistent with how the College is now treating it.

  2. Rosemary Hannah says

    I think the minefield is bigger than that accentually. Given many people come into the priesthood after a previous career, many will have found a life partner. but for those who do not – how realistic is it to expect virgin bride and virgin bridegroom? Really? Regardless of orientation? And if people are not virgins, does it make a tuppeny ha’penny difference if they are sharing a house or not?

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