There was a very interesting segment on 'Newsnight Scotland' tonight (Thursday) on BBC2.
Two gay men identified in the programme as Rab Wickstead and his partner Alex Valentine, who were filmed openly for and spoke during the programme, today had their relationship blessed by a Church of Scotland minister, the Rev. Iain Whyte. It seems that selected CofS ministers are now being authorised, if they choose, to bless gay relationships. Reverend Whyte stressed at the beginning of the blessing ceremony that it was in no way a 'marriage' (that would, in any case, be illegal here at present - unfortunately), but at least he and the CofS are making a small effort to adapt.
Of course such blessings have been conducted discreetly for some years by ministers/priests of various religions here in the UK, usually without the overt approval of the church organisation concerned. This is the first time, however, that I am aware a major UK church has addressed the issue directly by allowing such blessings to take place semi-officially. It does represent a small step forward.
As a non-religious person such matters are entirely irrelevant to me personally, although I recognise that for the couple involved it was obviously very important for their relationship to be 'recognised' by a minister. Whilst I do feel pleased for the couple, specially as one of the two is suffering from terminal cancer, I am sad for them that they cannot be married like any other loving [heterosexual] couple. I am also sad for myself because I feel so grateful for such a small thing; even today, the position of gay people in society remains so precarious in many ways that even small glimmers of hope are welcomed [almost] without qualm.
There is no link [yet] that I can trace on the BBC website, except this - if you scroll down until you reach the 'Newsnight Scotland' section and click on the link included there, you can watch the programme for yourself - this segment starts about seven minutes into the programme, so unless you want to watch the whole thing you can use the pointer on the media-player screen to fast-forward. This edition will only be up on the site until tomorrow evening, though, when it may well be replaced (although as 'Newsnight Scotland' only airs Monday thru Thursday it may perhaps remain up until Monday; I'm not sure). If I do find a link to this story in print format on the web tomorrow I will add it to this post - ironically the first weblink for a print article I have seen is on the Scottish TV (i.e. a commercial station) website.
UPDATE: (Friday 23JUL04 08.55 BST) Here is a link to this story in the Scotsman; additional details not provided in either the television broadcast link or the other link above are given.