This weekend something really quite amazing happened. The Church of Scotland voted to allow its congregations to appoint a minister who is in a same-sex marriage.
Let’s just think about that for a second.
Scotland - a country which didn’t decriminalise homosexuality until 1980, almost 15 years behind England and Wales; which once had a reputation for proud conservatism - has recently been named the best place to be LGBT in Europe.
And now the Kirk has taken steps to ensure that lesbian, gay and bisexual ministers and deacons can live their lives with honesty and integrity. They can now experience the joy of openly celebrating a committed relationship, instead of having to hide it.
There are those who question whether this vote has actually gone far enough. And, of course, there are still issues which the Kirk will need to grapple with over the coming months and years.
This vote, for example, has not altered its traditional view of marriage as being between a man and a woman, allowing congregations to “opt out” in appointing a minister or deacon in a same-sex marriage. It also does not allow ministers to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.
There are passionate individuals and groups within the Kirk that will continue to lead this debate, and I hope we can support them in that journey. But let’s also not underestimate the significance of this move.
The Kirk remains a powerful cultural and even political influence in Scotland, and this move will have ramifications far beyond the pulpit. It is a recognition and acceptance of the diversity which exists within Scotland and within the Kirk: the diversity of congregations, of its ministry, and of its members.
It sends an important message. It suggests that the sign that declares 'all are welcome' at the church door, really means it.
I believe we are God’s creation, so I am who I am, and I have never understood how God could be anti-gay, given that so many of us are LGBT .
SCOTT RENNIE, CHURCH OF SCOTLAND MINISTER
We’ve still got a long way to go before LGBT people can feel truly accepted without exception in Scotland. LGBT young people are still bullied in our schools, trans people are still far from equal in the eyes of the law, and we still need to work hard to bring together LGBT and faith communities.
But when I was out for a run last Sunday I saw a rainbow flag brightly shining in the window of Broughton St Mary’s – the church which sits right in the heart of Edinburgh City Centre. A symbol of peace and hope. A symbol of equality and acceptance.