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Topics In the News
Scottish Parliament Passes First Reading of Marriage Equality Bill
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/21/13
Last updated on: 11/21/13
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Scottish mystery writer Val McDermid speaks out in favor of the bill.

On November 20, 2013, the Scottish Parliament passed its marriage equality bill on first reading by an overwhelming majority. After a spirited debate, the Marriage and Civil Partnerships Bill was passed by a vote of 98 to 15, with 5 members abstaining. The bill must now be reviewed in committee and then, if approved, return for a final vote of Parliament, probably in early 2014.

As a writer for PinkNews observes, despite the remaining hurdles that the bill must overcome to become law, the vote on November 20 "was in many respects the most important vote because it revealed for the first time that a majority of MSPs supported introducing equal marriage."

While the outcome had been predicted, the margin of victory was surprising.

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume said of the debate, "Today's vote was a big step forward for equality and a move towards the fairer Scotland that we all want to see. The principle we are debating here is very simple. Same-sex partners do not love one another any less than other couples. Their relationships deserve the same recognition and protections as any other."

He added, "The word 'historic' is often thrown around far too easily in politics, but this was a genuinely historic day for Scotland. Today's vote was not just on a bill. It was on the principle of a fundamental reform that will demonstrate clearly that our Scottish society values everyone--no matter their sexuality."

The Bill will now be considered by Parliament's equal opportunities committee, which may propose amendments. The Bill will then be returned to Parliament for a final vote.

There is some speculation that the government is hoping to time the progress of the Bill so that it will go into effect at the same time marriage equality goes into effect in England and Wales.

Although marriage equality is strongly opposed by the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland, neither of which will be required to offer same-sex marriages under the Bill, it is supported by several religious groups that are eager to perform marriages for gay and lesbian couples.

Among these groups are Quakers. Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, said: "Quakers have recognized same-sex marriage since 2009 because we see God in everyone and believe all committed couples should be treated equally. We've been waiting for the law to catch up and it is good to see legislation making progress in Scotland."

Scottish Quaker Phil Lucas added, "It's a matter of justice and equality. We want this because Quakers have a longstanding commitment to equality and we wish to express our belief in the right of all committed couples who love each other to be treated equally."

Acclaimed Scottish writer Val McDermid issued the video below before the vote supporting equal marriage.

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