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Same-sex civil partnerships & marriages (SSM) in Scotland

Part 7: 2014-FEB-04: The Marriage and Civil
Partnership (Scotland) Bill
becomes law.
Reactions to the new law.

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This topic is continued from Part 6

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LGBT symbol 2014-FEB-04: The Scottish Government passed the bill to legalize same-sex marriages:

Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) voted 105 to 18 in favor of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill at about 6:38 PM local time. Scotland became the 17th country in the world to make marriage available to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. 1,5

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Some provisions of the new law:

  • The bill allows a transgender married individual to stay married when they obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate that recognizes the new gender identity of one of the spouses. The earlier bill passed into law in 2013 in England and Wales required them to divorce their spouse first.

  • The Scottish Government reached an agreement with the UK Parliament to change the UK Equality Act to protect individual Scottish clergy from court actions claiming discrimination if they want to continue discriminating against same-sex couples by refusing to marry them.

  • The new law allows scientific Humanists to solemnize secular same-sex marriages. The similar law for England and Wales does not allow this.

  • The Church of Scotland, which has the status of the national church in Scotland, 2 the Catholic Church, and a few small denominatons currently oppose same-sex marriage. However, they will be able to opt into solemnizing same-sex marriages in the future if and when they decide to change their position.

  • Clergy, congregations, and faith groups will be able to freely choose to marry same-sex couples, unless this is forbidden by the rules of their denomination/sect/tradition.

  • All religious institutions will be able to freely discriminate against same-sex couples by not allowing them to be married on their premises.

  • Civil marriages can be solemnized at any location agreeable to the engaged couple, the registrar, and the owner of the property.

  • The Scottish Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland and some other small faith groups had opposed the bill, and will not be marrying same-sex couples for the foreseeable future.

Some have speculated that same-sex marriages will begin in the fall of 2014. No specific date was announced at the time that the bill was passed.

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Reactions to the passage of the bill:

  • Buddhists, scientific Humanists, The Society of Friends (a.k.a. Quakers), Unitarians, and the Pagan Federation have all supported the bill and are pleased with its passage. 4

  • Tom French, policy coordinator for the Equality Network, issued a statement saying, in part:

    "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.

    "This is a profoundly emotional moment for many people who grew up in a country where being gay was still a criminal offence 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.

    We know this change means so much to LGBT people across Scotland and we look forward to the first same-sex marriages taking place as soon as possible." 4

  • Alan Hamilton, convener of the Church of Scotland legal questions committee, said that:

    "The Church of Scotland holds to the mainstream Christian belief that marriage is properly [only] between a man and a woman."

He also said that its marriages may be:

"... forced out of the present legal framework [as a result of the bill.] We are also concerned that public servants, particularly registrars and teachers, who do not support same-sex marriage, may find themselves disadvantaged in the workplace." 3

The Church had earlier expressed concern that the protections offered by the bill to prevent legal challenges from same-sex couples who want to be married in the church are inadequate. They had said that they may be forced to stop solemnizing all marriages in order to avoid massive legal costs as a result of lawsuits from same-sex couples that the church discriminated against.

  • Alex Neil. the Health secretary, told Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) that they were doing a:

    "... remarkable thing [in passing new laws]. ... We are saying on behalf of Scotland to the world, loud and clear, that we believe in recognizing love between same-sex couples as we do between opposite-sex couples. ... Today is a momentous day for equality in our nation. This legislation sends a powerful message to the world about the kind of society we in Scotland are trying to create -- a nation where the principles of fairness and equality are weaved into the very fabric of our society."

  • Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, a pro-LGBT equality group, said:

    "We’re delighted that MSPs have overwhelmingly demonstrated that they’re committed to building a Scotland fit for the 21st century."

  • Scotland for Marriage is the main advocacy group that has opposed marriage equality. An unidentified spokesperson said:

    "The overwhelming majority of MSPs have ignored public opinion and steamrollered through a law which is ill-conceived, poorly thought out and will, in time, discriminate against ordinary people for their sincerely held beliefs." 3

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More reactions to the bill's passage:

  • Jackie Baillie, a Labour MSP said of the bill:

    "It’s time for change, it’s time to support equal marriage."

  • Jackson Carlaw, a Tory MSP has been married for 26 years. He commented that there was a:

    "... celebratory attitude [in Parliament during the debate.] I want every couple in Scotland regardless of their sex to be able to have exactly the same opportunity to enjoy the long and happy marriage we have had."

  • Jim Hume, a Liberal Democrat MSP said:

    "We want Scotland to be one of the fairest and most equal places in the world."

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This topic is continued in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Scotland's same-sex marriage bill is passed," BBC News/Scotland, 2014-FEB-04, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
  2. "How we are organized," The Church of Scotland, 2014, at: http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/
  3. Scott Macnab, "Same-sex marriage: MSPs pass gay marriage bill," The Scotsman, 2014-FEB-05, at: http://www.scotsman.com/
  4. "Gay marriage legalised in Scotland following historic vote at Holyrood," Daily Record, 2014-FEB-04, at: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/
  5. "Live Blog: Scottish Parliament’s Stage 3 Debate on equal marriage," Pink News, 2014-FEB-03, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
  6. Magnus Gardham, "New poll shows majority of Scots in favour of same-sex marriage," Herald Scotland, 2013-DEC-05, at: http://www.heraldscotland.com/

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM > Scotland > here

 Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM > UK > Scotland > here

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2014-FEB-05
Latest update: 2014-DEC-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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