Scotland’s historic equal marriage legislation came into effect at midnight December 16, 2014 with the first same-sex marriage taking place a short time ago.
The first couple to make use of the new law were Douglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster, who converted their Scottish civil partnership to marriage at the British Consulate in Melbourne, Australia as soon as the law came into effect at one minute past midnight.
In February, Scotland became the 17th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage 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.
Beginning December 16, 2014:
- Same-sex couples will be able to give notice of their intention to marry and, following the usual 15 day notice period for new marriages, the first same-sex marriage ceremonies will take place on Hogmanay (December 31).
- Those couples in current Scottish civil partnerships can choose, if they wish, to convert their civil partnership to marriage.
- Those couples with foreign same-sex marriages will be recognized as married in Scotland. Previously they were recognized as civil partners.
- 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 recognized in law. Furthermore, because there is no “spousal veto” on gender recognition in Scotland, the decision of a married trans person to get legal recognition of their gender will now be respected as their human right, and not a decision that can be blocked by a spouse.
- Religious and belief bodies will finally have their freedom of belief respected as organizations that want to conduct same-sex marriages will be able to opt-in to doing so, and unlike in other countries no religious body will be banned from opting-in. So far those religious and belief bodies that have been authorized to conduct same-sex marriages include Humanist Society Scotland, the Unitarians, the Quakers, the Pagan Federation (Scotland), the Liberal Jewish Community, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Open Episcopal Church in Scotland, One Spirit Interfaith Foundation, and Fuze Ceremonies.
Equality Network has released a new guide to the same-sex marriage and civil partnership law for same-sex couples and LGBTI people in Scotland. A digital copy is available on the website and 10,000 printed copies will be distributed in January.
The guide contains a Foreword from Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who did so much to make equal marriage a reality. It provides all the information you need to know on how to register a marriage or civil partnership, and the rights and responsibilities that come with it. The guide also contains information on converting a civil partnership, the recognition that exists for foreign partnerships and the impact of the new law on gender recognition for transgender people.
Are you converting your civil partnership or submitting your marriage notices on December 16 or sometime soon? Has your foreign same-sex marriage finally been properly recognized? Are you a celebrant and looking forward to conducting your first same-sex marriage? Will the changes affecting gender recognition impact on your life?
You may also download a ‘Just Married’ sign to print off here: equality-network.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/sign.png.