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Scottish parliament approves marriage equality bill

Marriage equality

Scottish flagGood news today out of Scotland: the Scottish Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to bring marriage equality to that section of the United Kingdom!  The BBC reports:

MSPs voted by 105 to 18 in favour of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill.

The Scottish government said the move was the right thing to do but Scotland’s two main churches were opposed to it.

The first gay and lesbian weddings could take place this autumn.

Religious and belief bodies can “opt in” to perform same-sex marriages.

Ministers said no part of the religious community would be forced to hold such ceremonies in churches.

During a debate at Holyrood, MSPs rejected amendments which were said to provide “protection” for groups and individuals opposed to same-sex marriage.

Marriage equality legislation was approved last year by the British parliament in Westminster, and same-sex couples in Wales and England will be allowed to wed starting March 29.

Congratulations, Scotland!


  • 1. Seth From Maryland  |  February 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    congrats Scotland :), now how to get Northern Ireland on the same page as the rest of the UK?

  • 2. David in London  |  February 4, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Through the courts is the only possible way. Getting it through Stormont is completely blocked because for some unknown reason the Northern Irish electorate keep voting in a bunch of hyper-religious crazies known as the DUP. As the largest Unionist party they get to veto any legislation from being debated in the Stormont assembly, and unsurprisingly given how much they very clearly and articulately despise LGBT people they always veto anything that benefits us.

    Closest thing the UK has to the Westboro Baptist Church, and people vote them into office because they're scared of Sinn Fein. Sad state of affairs.

  • 3. Christian  |  February 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Westminster could vote to legalize it throughout the Commonwealth (save for the sovereign nations). But it could take onwards on of 30 years for such action to take place (considering England and Wales repealed the buggery Act, again, in 1967 and they didn't mandate every London-owned territory do so until 2000)

    But court action is not feasible at this time.

  • 4. David in London  |  February 4, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Westminster doesn't legislate for the Commonwealth. I think you're confusing that with the Overseas Territories, but unfortunately for LGBT issues Westminster gave up a lot of its previous powers over those in 2002, so each territory now governs itself on internal issues. The only exception to this is the two parts of Cyprus still run by the UK, since they are considered British air bases.

  • 5. Christian  |  February 4, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    You're right I did mean the Overseas Territories. My bad. Appreciate the correction.

    And I was under the impression that ultimately Westminster could amend it's current relations with the OT as a matter of Parliamentary Supremacy. Especially if they were convinced that abuses of civil rights were occurring.

    Considering that there's no substantive form of judicial review for primary legislation, parliament could do what it pleases without legal ramifications short of a verbal condemnation from the SCotUK.

    Maybe it's time London revisit the matter if civil rights in the OT.

  • 6. Christian  |  February 4, 2014 at 8:23 pm


  • 7. Mike in Baltimore  |  February 4, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    I prefer the previous version you gave – SCotUK, or SCo-tUK.

    Although many might think it a bit 'racy'. Not really any more 'racy' than SCOTUS, though, IMO.


  • 8. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 4, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Anyone know how this works for the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories (like Bermuda)?

  • 9. David in London  |  February 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories have complete autonomy on this front. London manages foreign affairs and defence on their behalf, not much else.

  • 10. SPQRobin  |  February 4, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Which is the complete opposite of France: when it legalized SSM, it also applied to all its overseas departments and territories.

    It's unfortunate because it takes longer in small jurisdictions to pass such reforms. In Gibraltar they are currently working on the introduction of civil partnerships. Instead of directly going for marriage equality, which both Spain and now the UK have.

  • 11. David in London  |  February 4, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    After all those replies above….

    Well done to the MSPs in Holyrood! 108-15 eh? I think we call that a result.

    This Bill is well in advance of the one that was passed by the Westminster Parliament last summer. It amends marriage in Scotland in a number of ways, only one of which is the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples. There are additional rights for transgendered Scots, as well as finally permitting humanist weddings to be performed. It really is a great piece of legislation, one which sets an example that other parliaments should seek to emulate when they debate marriage equality themselves.

  • 12. AndyGH  |  February 4, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Hi from Newtonmore, Scotland has had humanist weddings since 2005 when the Registrar General of Scotland registered 12 Humanist officiants. Mostly out of fear of a lawsuit under section 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights freedom which guaranties freedom "of thought, conscience and religion". Today's bill is definetly better than the England and Wales bill, but simply extends the freedom of marriage, including a humanist ceremony, to all.

  • 13. Christian  |  February 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    David, what is the extent for powers of judicial review for European Court of Human Rights? I know in England and Wales, at least, it's power is advisory not binding. (Unless I am more ignorant of the politics of the UK than I previously was aware).

    Are there countries which obey it's rulings via constitutional requirement or by statute?

  • 14. Jay  |  February 5, 2014 at 6:38 am

    One of the issues in the debate was the question of extending "special rights" to people who had religious objections to same-sex marriage. The Minister's response was that freedom of religious expression was already covered in other legislation and, if I remember correctly, also in the European Court of Human Rights, whose rulings Scotland had previously adopted. In any event, it was clear that Scotland is committed to human rights for all of its citizens. Patrick Harvie, one of the openly gay MSPs, pointed out in the debate that freedom of religion also includes freedom from religion. Another MSP said that what the opponents wanted was their speech to be given more weight than that of anyone else. Nice exchange.

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