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Scotland legalizes same-sex marriage

Lawmakers voted 105 to 18 in favour of the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill

Scottish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour of legalizing gay marriage Feb 4. Credit: Screen shot from STV News

The Scottish parliament has voted to allow same-sex marriages, joining England and Wales, which passed a gay marriage bill last year, the BBC reports.

Members of parliament voted 105 to 18 in a free vote to approve the bill. Gay couples will be able to marry in Scotland in the fall at the earliest.

Health Secretary Alex Neil hails the bill’s passage as “a historic moment for equality” in the country, STV News reports. “There has been overwhelming support for this bill from the beginning, and many MSPs from across the political spectrum have expressed considered, personal opinions,” Neil says.

The Scottish Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland oppose the bill, even though the government has made many concessions to opponents of the measure.

For some, like the group Scotland for Marriage, the concessions don’t go far enough.

Religious organizations will be able to opt into the law, and clergy of organizations that have not opted in will be unable to perform marriages.

The law also states that it is possible to oppose same-sex marriage “without being homophobic.”

Civil unions for same-sex couples are already recognized in Scotland.