Hurrah for Scotland as years of campaigning leads to equal marriage victory!

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A bill to legalise equal marriage has passed the Scottish Parliament in an historic final Stage Three vote.

Members of the Scottish Parliament voted earlier against several amendments tabled by the anti-equal marriage MSP, John Mason.

One of the amendments stated that no public sector employee should suffer “detriment” for believing marriage to be between a man and a woman.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Alex Neil described Mr Mason’s amendments as unnecessary.

He said robust protections for faith groups had already been included in the legislation.

The Equality Network, the Scottish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality charity that launched the UK’s first major campaign for equal marriage in 2008, welcomed the vote as “a milestone for LGBT equality in Scotland”.

Tom French, policy co-ordinator for the Equality Network, said: “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.”

The Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill passed its first Stage One vote on 20 November.

It now awaits Royal Assent by the Queen.

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

A poll in December showed a majority of Scotland’s population support equal marriage. 

Unlike the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales, Scotland’s equal marriage law will provide greater protections for transgender people. Married transgender people in Scotland will no longer be forced to obtain written consent from their spouse before they can get legal recognition of their gender.

Last August, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Liz Barker expressed regret that the UK Parliament had failed to remove the requirement from the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.

Scotland will allow gender neutral and humanists ceremonies, unlike in England and Wales.

The Church of Scotland will not automatically be banned from solemnising same-sex marriages, in contrast to the Church of England and Church in Wales.

Along with its Anglican and Catholic counterparts, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland has stated that it will not sanction its clergy to marry same-sex couples.

Scotland has become the 17th country in the world to pass same-sex marriage.

Northern Ireland is now the only remaining UK nation where equal marriage has not been legalised.