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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 21:26 GMT 22:26 UK
Kirk backs gay 'wedding' choice
General Assembly
The Kirk's assembly is meeting all week
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted for the blessing of civil partnerships to be a matter of conscience for local ministers.

The Kirk had been debating whether or not ministers should be allowed to bless gay unions with a religious ceremony.

It has agreed to consult each presbytery and will revisit the issue at next year's assembly meeting.

This year's assembly gathering, being held in Edinburgh, will run all week.

Members heard on Tuesday that it was not surprising that some same sex couples will want some form of religious ceremony to mark their civil partnership.

A proposal was passed that no minister should be disciplined for conducting such a blessing, but neither should they be forced to do so against their concience.

Evangelical group Forward Together had warned that a decision in favour of the blessings could cause widespread dismay throughout the Church of Scotland.

But the stance was backed by Affirmation Scotland, a group of gay and straight church members which argued that there remains a very real problem of discrimination against gay people in the Church of Scotland.

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