After a lengthy public consultation, the government in Scotland announced it will bring forward a bill supporting marriage equality for gays and lesbians.
“We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships,” said Scotland’s deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. “We believe that this is the right thing to do.”
The effort—which could see ceremonies starting in 2015—has had broad support among both the country’s various political parties and the public itself: Of the 77,508 responses to the consultation, 65% were in favor of marriage equality and 35% against.
Currently, same-sex couples can enter into civil partnerships, which offer the same access to inheritance, pensions, insurance and child custody but don’t have access to religious ceremonies. Sturgeon also made it clear that provisions exist to ensure clergy that did not want to conduct same-sex ceremonies wouldn’t have to.
Of course, religious conservatives are still coming up with excuses why marriage equality would be disastrous. Rev. Alan Hamilton, a legal scholar for the Church of Scotland, says he’s concerned the government isn’t doing enough to protect clergy and churches “whose beliefs prevent them from celebrating civil-partnerships or same-sex marriages.”
The laws are already in place. What more do you want, Reverend—a doctor’s note?
Unsurprisingly, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said the government was “embarking on a dangerous social experiment on a massive scale.”
Back in England, David Cameron’s government is currently consulting on upgrading civil unions there to full marriages. Could there be a friendly competition in Great Britain to see who reaches the equality finish line first?
We’re totally jealous.
Photo: Gay Weddings in Scotland