LONDON (AP) - Senior members of the Church of Scotland have voted to let some congregations have openly gay ministers, a compromise first step that could lead to the church allowing gay clergy.
The church's General Assembly backed a motion affirming a traditional conservative view on homosexuality, but permitted liberal congregations to "opt out" if they wish to ordain gay men or women.
The assembly vote would require the approval of next year's General Assembly as well as votes by the church's regional presbyteries to become law. The process is expected to take at least two years.
Monday's decision came after a lengthy debate on the issue, which has divided the church of about 400,000 members for years.
The General Assembly, held each May, consists of about 700 members and decides church policy.