Britain's Quakers have agreed to carry out same-sex marriages on the same basis as marriages for opposite-sex couples.
The BBC reports:
One of the UK's oldest Christian denominations - the Quakers - looks set to extend marriage services to same-sex couples at their yearly meeting later..
The society has already held religious blessings for same-sex couples who have had a civil partnership ceremony.
But agreeing to perform gay marriages, which are currently not allowed under civil law, could bring the Quakers into conflict with the government
The BBC says that the Quakers "had been more prepared than other groups to reinterpret the Bible in the light of contemporary life."
Ekklesia describes the debate:
The decision came after an intense week of debate and reflection at the Quakers' Yearly Meeting in York.
Emotions ran high in the discussions and several people of various views were visibly in tears. Many participants hugged each other and expressed delight as the decision was reached.
People working for equality and inclusion within other churches and faith groups will be encouraged by the decision.
Quakers are now likely to face a difficult time with the law, which currently offers same-sex couples only civil partnerships, in which no religious element is allowed.
The statement agreed by the Religious Society of Friends, as Quakers are otherwise known, comes 22 years after they began formal consideration of the issue.
The Quakers agreed this morning that they would “treat same-sex committed relationships in the same way as opposite-sex marriages, reaffirming our central insight that marriage is the Lord's work and we are but witnesses”
They further declared that “the question of legal recognition by the state is secondary”.
Quaker same-sex marriages will now be “prepared, celebrated, witnessed, recorded and reported to the state in the same way as opposite-sex marriages”.