Tuesday , 20 August 2019

Scotland celebrates equal marriage

Joe Schofield, Malcolm Brown and Ross Wright
Joe Schofield, Malcolm Brown and Ross Wright

The first same-sex couples tied the knot at the stroke of midnight in Scotland’s first equal marriage ceremonies.

The first two weddings both took place at the same time in Glasgow, when Joe Schofield and Malcolm Brown (both 42) were married in a humanist ceremony at the Trades Hall, and Susan (54) and Gerrie Douglas-Scott (59), were also married in a civil ceremony at a private venue.

The two were the first of 17 couples who celebrated their weddings this Hogmanay morning.

Legislators passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill in February, making Scotland the 17th country in the world to legalise same-sex ceremonies.

The Act received Royal Assent in March and, following the passage of the necessary secondary legislation, the law came into effect on 16 December 2014.

Over 250 couples have converted their civil partnerships to marriage since the law came into effect on 16 December.

Hogmanay is the first day after the usual 15-day notice period for marriages that same-sex weddings can take place.

Celebrating their marriage Joe and Malcolm said: “Today we are finally recognised as a married couple.

We are very proud to be one of the first couples in Scotland to be able to officially call ourselves husband and husband. This is an amazing chapter in Scotland’s history that we are all witnessing and can be proud of.

Scotland is leading the way in fairness and equality for all, and we would like to thank all those who campaigned so tirelessly for this change. At last, we and so many other same-sex couples can finally say ‘we’re married!’.”

Susan and Gerrie stated: “We are delighted that, at long last, after 18 years together our love finally has the same recognition in law and society as all other married couples.  As humanist celebrants ourselves we have had the privilege of marrying many hundreds of people over the last few years and so we know how special and important marriage is. We are excited to be the first lesbians to have a legal marriage ceremony in Scotland. 2014 has been quite a year!”

The couples were joined by their families and friends, as well as guests including LGBTI equality campaigners, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP and Convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie MSP, who acted as witnesses at the marriage of Susan and Gerrie, while Scots Makar Liz Lochhead and Scottish Government Minister Marco Biagi MSP acted as witnesses for Joe and Malcolm.

Marco Biagi MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment who had responsibility for bringing the new law into effect, and an out gay man said: “With a New Year nearly upon us, there really is no better way to celebrate than by watching these two people get married and make that lifelong commitment to each other.

I am proud of our parliament in passing the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 and proud of Scotland and the country that we are fast becoming.”

Ross Wright, Humanist Society Scotland marriage celebrant, who played a part in the equal marriage campaign and solemnised Joe and Malcolm’s wedding ceremony, said; “It was a real privilege to have been to conduct Joe and Malx Wedding ceremony. As a gay man myself, I think the new law is particularly important because it signals that all people in Scotland deserve to be treated equally, a central plank of humanist thinking.”

Tom French, of the Equality Network, stated: “It was an honour to be invited to one of Scotland’s first same-sex weddings, which really showed what this new law is all about – love, family and equality. This is a big day for many couples and their families, but it is also a milestone moment for Scotland as a whole.

“There is undoubtedly more that we need to do as a society to tackle prejudice and ensure equal treatment for LGBTI people, but today is a day of celebration and a chance to reflect on just how far we’ve come.

“In recent years Scotland has become a leading light on LGBTI equality, and we now have one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world, helping to create the fair and equal society we all want to see.”

Colin Macfarlane director of Stonewall Scotland said: “We are delighted that same-sex marriage is finally a reality for all LGBT people in Scotland. We’d like to offer our warmest congratulations to those couples who married at the stroke of midnight and to all those who will be doing so in the days, weeks and months to come.

“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 what better way to celebrate Hogmanay by saying I do to equal marriage”

A recent survey revealed an overwhelming majority of Scotland’s residents (68%) believe LGBTI couples should have the right to marry; showing support for marriage equality is at a record high and opposition at a record low.

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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