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Scottish parliament advances marriage equality legislation in overwhelming first vote

Marriage equality

Scottish flagThe Scottish Parliament yesterday voted on marriage equality for the first time, and it was a big win for LGBT advocates, according to the BBC:

The Scottish government’s Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill passed the first of three parliamentary hurdles by 98 votes to 15 with five abstentions.

Same-sex couples in Scotland currently have the option to enter into civil partnerships, and there has been an indication that the earliest gay marriage ceremonies could take place by the start of 2015, if the legislation is passed.

Ministers have insisted no part of the religious community would be forced to hold ceremonies for homosexual couples in churches.

Both the Church of Scotland and Catholic Church are opposed to the legislation, although pro-marriage equality religious organizations would be allowed to ‘opt in’ to performing weddings for same-sex couples.

The Scottish Parliament’s members (known as MSPs) were allowed a so-called ‘free vote’ on yesterday’s legislation, meaning that they were not bound to vote along party lines.

The UK Parliament passed its own marriage equality bill this summer, which will bring equal marriage rights to same-sex couples in England and Wales in 2014.  The language of that law expressly forbids the Church of England and the Church in Wales from conducting marriage ceremonies, although it allows other religious organizations to ‘opt in’ in a similar matter to the Scottish bill.

A final vote on the Scottish legislation is expected next year.


  • 1. SPQRobin  |  November 21, 2013 at 10:49 am

    The biggest win remains Iceland in 2010 with 49 for, none against, 7 abstentions and 7 absences. 🙂
    Others are e.g. Sweden, 261 votes in favour, 22 votes against and 16 abstentions.
    Oh, I love northern Europe 🙂

    (P.S.: come on, Finland!)

  • 2. Seth From Maryland  |  November 21, 2013 at 11:44 am

    i think they at they finally will at the end of the year , the parliament in Finland voted marriage equality down earlier this year in a committee vote , however advocates and supporters did not give up, they gathered enough signatures to send a citizens initiative to the parliament , now the FULL parliament will have to take up a marriage equality bill written in the citizens initiatives , i don't think the citizens initiative forces members to vote for the bill but think it will make them more likely to consider voting in favor of the bill

  • 3. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 21, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    This is great news, although we in the States seem to be in a race for last place among primarily English-speaking nations with full marriage equality….

  • 4. Valquiria  |  November 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    In my opinion, that dubious honor will go to Australia. With all the litigation in the wake of Windsor, the USA is approaching a judicial showdown in the next few years. But in Australia there's simply no momentum, and no victories to build on. They're stuck with a hostile legislature for the next several years, a PM who is personally anti-gay and who will use his political capital to prevent a vote on equality, no prospect of a judicial solution, and no capacity for a state-by-state federal approach. What little progress they've made (in the capital district) could easily be rolled back by a court ruling. In a few years, the US may have a Loving-style decision while Australia is still mired in a purgatory of civil unions and domestic partner registries.

  • 5. David in London  |  November 21, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Despite all that I would still put money on Australia beating Northern Ireland. The Six Counties are packed full of anti-gay religious nutjobs, and for some reason the electorate keeps voting enough of them into office to allow them to veto any LGBT-friendly legislation put before the Assembly.

  • 6. Valquiria  |  November 22, 2013 at 4:09 am

    And that's why the US will have true nationwide marriage equality before the UK.

  • 7. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 22, 2013 at 7:34 am

    You both make excellent points, and I appreciate the insight. Still gets me that South Africa beat the US to the punch. The home of apartheid, for heaven's sake.

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