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Scottish Parliament votes to legalize same-sex marriage

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
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Dan LittauerMarriage equality supporters celebrate the Scottish Parliament vote to legalize same-sex marriage in Scotland.

Equality Network
Marriage equality supporters celebrate the Scottish Parliament vote to legalize same-sex marriage in Scotland.

EDINBURGH, Scotland — Scotland becomes the 17th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill by an overwhelming majority.

105 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) voted in favor, 18 objected and 0 abstained.

Five last minute amendments putting limits on the Marriage Equality bill, by Christian MSP John Mason, were rejected.

Secretary for Health and Well Being, Alex Neil, stated during the vote: “Scotland is a nation that cherishes love. I commend this bill to the chamber, and invite MSPs to support it.”

The first same-sex marriages are now expected to take place later this year after the Scottish Government pledged to speed up the implementation of the Bill.

Originally, the first ceremonies were not expected until spring 2015 because of the time needed to pass secondary legislation and fully implement the Bill, but in a video message to marriage equality supporters, Neil pledged to “work with our Westminster colleagues to make it happen as quickly as possible.”

Unlike in England and Wales, Scotland will allow humanists marriage ceremonies.

The Church of Scotland will not automatically be banned from solemnizing same-sex marriages, which is also in contrast to the ban on the Church of England in the rest of the United Kingdom.

All faiths will be allowed to solemnizing same-sex marriages, or opt out if they so wish.

The Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian Churches of Scotland have already stated they will not sanction their clergy to marry same-sex couples.

“Today will be remembered in history as the day that lesbian, gay and bisexual people were finally granted full legal equality in Scotland, and given an equal right to marry the person they love,” said said Tom French, Policy Coordinator for the Equality Network, a Scottish LGBT advocacy group.

“This is a profoundly emotional moment for many people who grew up in a country where being gay was still a criminal offense until 1980. Scotland can be proud that we now have one of the most progressive equal marriage bills in the world, and that we’ve sent out a strong message about the kind of country we are,” said French.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Proud to have voted for equal marriage. Scotland is a better place tonight.”

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