Scotland becomes the 17th country to allow same-sex unions after MSPs pass historic Bill
A rainbow glimmered over the Scottish Parliament yesterday as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Scots celebrated their newly won right to wed.
MSPs passed the Bill 105-18 in a final vote just before the Morning Star went to press last night.
Its passage was a foregone conclusion, with around five-sixths of MSPs backing the Bill's wording through preliminary votes.
The Bill's passage makes Scotland the 17th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, giving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people the right to marry a person of any gender.
The legislation also allows those already married to change their legal sex without resorting to divorce, while protecting "freedom of thought, conscience and religion in regards to marriage and freedom of expression" for organisations and individuals who do not wish to officiate a same-sex marriage.
Campaigners on both sides looked on from the public gallery yesterday as MSPs knocked down a barrage of last-minute amendments by opponents of the Bill.
Scottish Labour MSP Michael McMahon, who opposed the Bill, urged MSPs to agree to a five-year review of the legislation for "unintended consequences."
But Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie was unperturbed. "Let me tell you what the consequences of this legislation will be - some people who love each other will get married, some of whom have already joined in a civil partnership.
"They will eat some cake and their mothers will likely make the most of the opportunity to wear a big hat.
"And with a little bit of luck, some of them will live happily ever after.
"If there are consequences, let us welcome them with joy," he said.
Earlier SNP member John Mason unsuccessfully called for an 11th-hour clause amending the Equality Act to specifically recognise the belief that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman.
But Scottish Labour's Jackie Baillie slated the proposal as a "wrecking clause," with the Westminster government unlikely to agree to a new "hierarchy of rights."
Speaking before the vote, the Equality Network's Tom French said Scotland now stood to gain "one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world."
Broader LGBT issues still remained, such as adequate healthcare and transition support, discrimination and recognition of non-binary genders.
But the vote was nonetheless "an opportunity to celebrate significant progress - and it is fitting that this historic vote will take place during LGBT History Month, a chance to reflect on how far we've come as a society and to recognise all the work that generations of LGBT people in Scotland have put into fighting for equal rights over the course of many decades to get us to this point.
"That's why the Equality Network strongly believes this Bill was well worth the wait," he said.