GLASGOW, Scotland — Scotlanders are ringing in the new year by celebrating a new marriage equality law that came into effect on New Year’s Eve.
The first two weddings took place just after the stroke of midnight in Glasgow on Dec. 31, when Joe Schofield and Malcolm Brown were married in a humanist ceremony at the Trades Hall, and Susan and Gerrie Douglas-Scott were married in a civil ceremony at a private venue.
The two were the first of 17 couples who celebrated their weddings this Hogmanay (Scotland’s New Year’s Eve) morning.
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Legislators passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill in February, making Scotland the 17th country in the world to legalize same-sex ceremonies.
The Act received Royal Assent in March and, following the passage of the necessary secondary legislation, the law came into effect on Dec. 16, 2014 for couples who wished to convert their civil partnerships to marriage.
More than 250 couples have since converted their civil partnerships to marriage.
Hogmanay is the first day after the usual 15-day notice period for marriages that same-sex weddings can take place.
“Today we are finally recognized as a married couple,” said Joe and Malcolm. “We are very proud to be one of the first couples in Scotland to be able to officially call ourselves husband and husband. This is an amazing chapter in Scotland’s history that we are all witnessing and can be proud of.”
The couples were joined by their families and friends, as well as guests including LGBTI equality campaigners, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie MSP, who acted as witnesses at the marriage of Susan and Gerrie, and Scottish Government Minister Marco Biagi acted as witnesses for Joe and Malcolm.
Biagi, Scottish Government Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment who had responsibility for bringing the new law into effect, and who is openly gay, said, “With a New Year nearly upon us, there really is no better way to celebrate than by watching two people get married and make that lifelong commitment to each other.
“This is a big day for many couples and their families, but it is also a milestone moment for Scotland as a whole,” said Tom French of Scotland’s Equality Network. “It was an honour to be invited to one of Scotland’s first same-sex weddings, which really showed what this new law is all about – love, family and equality.”
“There is undoubtedly more that we need to do as a society to tackle prejudice and ensure equal treatment for LGBTI people, but today is a day of celebration and a chance to reflect on just how far we’ve come,” said French.
Elsewhere in the United Kingdom, same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales on March 29, 2014.