The first Scottish gay couple have become legally married after the country’s historic equal marriage legislation came into effect at midnight today.
Douglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster, converted their Scottish civil partnership to a Scottish marriage at the British Consulate in Melbourne, Australia, as soon as the law came into effect at one minute past midnight UK time (11.01am Australian Eastern Daylight Time) on 16 December.
Prestsell (47), who is originally from Edinburgh, and Gloster (47), from Melbourne, have been together for seven years and had their civil partnership in August 2010 at Fenton Tower in North Berwick, East Lothian.
Pretsell and Gloster, said: “We are so proud of Scotland for introducing equal marriage, and we hope that other countries like Australia will soon follow Scotland’s lead. We always considered our civil partnership to be our marriage, but in the eyes of the law and society it wasn’t held in the same regard.
“Prior to today same-sex couples were deliberately treated as though our relationships were inferior and not worthy of the same recognition or respect. Well from today its official, we are married and we have the certificate to prove it.
“This is an important step forward for equality both in terms of the law, but also in the way that LGBTI people will be viewed and treated in our society.”
From today same-sex couples will be able to give notice of their intention to marry and following the usual 15 day notice period the first same-sex marriage ceremonies will take place on Hogmanay.
However, Scotland’s first same-sex marriages will officially start today as couples in Scottish civil partnerships can convert to marriage. While those couples already in a foreign same-sex marriage will also now be recognised as married in Scotland.
Also from today married transgender people will no longer be forced to divorce the person they love before they are allowed to have the gender they live as recognised in law and without the option for ‘spousal veto’.
Scotland became the 17th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage in February after the Scottish Parliament passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 by an overwhelming 105 votes to 18, the third strongest majority for any same-sex marriage legislation in the world.
The Act received Royal Assent in March and the Scottish Government has since been implementing the new law, including passing the necessary secondary legislation to bring it into effect.
Commenting on the news, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, stated: “As a Government, we are proud to have introduced one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world.
“I am personally proud of my involvement, when Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, in leading this consultation which started the journey to marriage equality in Scotland.
“I believe that the love between a couple, regardless of their gender, sexuality, belief or background, is powerful and should be valued and recognised.
“This legislation sends a powerful message to the world about the kind of Scotland we seek to create and it is a clear indication of the Scottish Government’s commitment to equality.
“I wish all the very best to those couples who will now be able to enter into marriage.”
Tom French, of Equality Network, said: “After many years of campaigning, we are delighted that as of today same-sex marriage is now legal in Scotland. We wish all those couples who are getting married today, and those planning to do so in future, all the best.
“Today is both a day of celebration and a hugely important step forward for LGBTI rights in Scotland that has one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world.”
Colin Macfarlane, Director, Stonewall Scotland told KaleidoScot: “We are thrilled today that couples will be able to convert their civil partnerships to marriages and we offer our congratulations to them all.
“While there is still lots to do before the lived day-to-day experience of many LGBTI people is truly equal in Scotland, this is a day of celebration and we know these ceremonies will be a wonderful early Christmas present for many couples, their friends and families.”