Church will allow same-sex weddings in my lifetime - Scottish Tory leader

Ruth Davidson has vowed to put pressure on Northern Ireland to legalise same-sex marriage.Reuters

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has predicted gay church weddings will happen in her lifetime.

Davidson is the first openly gay leader of the Scottish Tories and a member of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In a wide-ranging interview with Pink News she said the Church had "come a really long way in a short time and we already have practising ministers in Scotland who are openly gay".

She acknowledged the decision was ultimately one for the Church's general assembly.

"I believe I'll see it in my lifetime, absolutely," she added. "I certainly hope so.

"The Church has come a long way very fast. It still has a long way to go but it's absolutely going in the right direction. I'm very hopeful I'll be able to see gay church weddings in my lifetime."

The Church of Scotland has a constitutional commitment to respect the "liberty of opinion in points which do not enter into the substance of the Faith". Unlike the Church of England, it allows ministers in civil partnerships to be appointed. At its 2016 General Assembly, which begins on May 21, the CoS is set to vote on whether to extend this acceptance to ministers in same-sex marriages. 

However ahead of a decision on whether to allow same-sex weddings in churches, the CoS has asked its theological forum to report on the theology of same-sex marriage. The forum's report is not likely to be considered until the Church of Scotland's general assembly in 2017.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: "It would be premature to try to predict either what the report will say or how the Assembly will decide."

Davidson has led the Scottish Tories for five years and is up against Labour's Kezia Dugdale and the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon at the elections for Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

David Robertson, moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, said: "It's hardly surprising that Ruth Davidson supports SSM and, as a member of the Church of Scotland, she thinks the church should do so as well. It is likely that the Church of Scotland Assembly will vote this May to allow ministers to be in same sex marriages, which means that any commission seeking to look at whether ordinary members can is pretty pointless. They can hardly say it's alright for ministers but not for members!

"The whole situation is an example of the Church following the culture, rather than challenging and leading it. Ruth Davidson thinks this is progress and the church is advancing. But the Church of Scotland is losing tens of thousands of members every year (this year they are down to 350,000). It is in sharp decline. I suspect that the two issues are related. As William Ralph Inge famously quipped, 'Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next'."