Edinburgh, Scotland – An overwhelming majority of Scotland’s legislators voted yes for gay marriage in the equal marriage bill.
Campaigners celebrate as the bill passes key this hurdle, and first same-sex marriages could take place in 2014.
98 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) said ‘I Do’ and voted in favour of the new Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill.
Only 15 voted against with five abstentions.
The Bill will extend the legal form of marriage to gay (LGBT) people and permit religious denominations to celebrate such marriages should they wish.
Alex Neil MSP, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for the Bill said the vote sends a message about 21st Century Scotland:
“We are joining all the other countries who already … provide a modern equality of all people.
“This is a historic day for Scotland, future generations will look back and congratulate the Parliament for voting for the progressive legislation.”
Now that the Bill has passed its stage one vote it will return to the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee who will consider amendments before MSPs vote on a final version of the Bill at stage three early in 2014.
Equality campaigners are celebrating tonight as Scotland’s equal marriage bill passes its first vote by an overwhelming majority.
Colin Macfarlane, Director, Stonewall Scotland said: “As the last piece of the legislative jigsaw providing equality for LGBT people in Scotland, this is a truly historic step forward. We’re absolutely delighted that MSPs have demonstrated overwhelmingly that they’re in touch with the twenty-first century.
“Stonewall Scotland has worked hard over the past few years to secure every vote, however, we cannot be complacent. As we heard from some speeches tonight there are those who will still attempt to wreck the Bill at Stage Two with unnecessary amendments. Most people in Scotland support equal marriage and will now be thrilled that we’re a step closer to it.
“We’re grateful to the thousands of Stonewall supporters, many of them straight, who have played a big part in contacting their MSPs in support.”
Tom French, Policy Coordinator for the Equality Network, said: “Tonight the Scottish Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to back same-sex marriage and uphold the principle that we should all be equal under the law.
“This vote is a huge step forward which will send out a strong message that LGBT people are equal and valued members of our society.
“While there is still more work to do to improve the bill and ensure it becomes law, LGBT people across the country will be celebrating this significant milestone in the journey towards full equality.”
Opinion polls have shown consistent public support for same-sex marriage across Scotland. A YouGov polling for Stonewall Scotland shows that 63% of people in Scotland support equal marriage.