By the end of the year, Scottish gay couples should be able to unite in matrimony. England and Wales couples will be able to marry on 29 March
Queen Elizabeth II has signed same-sex marriage into law in Scotland today (13 March).
By the end of the year, Scottish gay couples will be able to unite in matrimony.
It is the last step in the long battle to get the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill through parliament, making it an Act.
Alex Neil, cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing, said: ‘I am delighted that the Same Sex Marriage Bill has now received Royal Assent.
‘We continue to work in close co-operation with Westminster on implementation of the Act so that the first same sex marriage can take place in Scotland as soon as is possible.’
While the bill faced tough religious and conservative opposition, it sailed through Holyrood with every vote a landslide victory for LGBTI rights.
Prior to the first vote, gay Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson – one of the most high profile LGBTI politicians in the UK – made a moving speech in support of the bill.
She said: ‘I speak on behalf only of myself, this will possibly be the most personal speech I ever make this chamber.
‘I believe in marriage. While my own family had all the stresses and strains common to all there was never any doubt in my mind of the security.
‘More than 40 years later my parents still love each other and I look at that now and I want it.
‘I want that right to extend not just to me but to the thousands of people across Scotland who can’t marry the love of their life. It matters the whole section of society they can have the facsimile of civil partnership but can’t have the real thing.
Davidson continued: ‘I don’t want the next generation of young gay people growing up as I did believing marriage is not for them.
‘That apartheid message, that same but different, is reflected in every hurtful comment.
‘We will wipe away the last legal barrier which says they are not equal to their peers.
‘I want everybody in Scotland to know marriage is open to them.’
Under the bill religious organizations will need to ‘opt in’ to perform same-sex marriages, and any individual celebrants will be able to refuse to carry out weddings for gay couples.
It will allow transgender people to stay married, rather than having to get divorced, when obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate.
Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: ‘We’re delighted that the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act has now received Royal Assent.
‘This means that Scottish same-sex couples are one step closer to getting married, but we’re not quite there yet.
‘Amendments still need to be made to the UK Equality Act and we’re working with both the Scottish and UK Governments to get these done as swiftly as possible.
‘Over the coming weeks we will be lobbying Ministers to make sure the first marriages happen in Scotland by the end of this year.’
Over 15,000 people answered the Scottish government’s consultation with nearly three in four people (72%) saying they support same-sex marriage and mixed-sex civil partnerships.
Last week, Elizabeth II broke her 61-year silence on the LGBTI community and spoke out to praise a gay charity.
Registrations are now open for gay couples in England and Wales to marry on 29 March.