Scotland will become the first jurisdiction in the U.K. to legalize same-sex marriage. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first deputy minister, made the televised announcement stressing that allowing people of the same sex to marry is “the right thing to do” and that Scotland’s devolved government is “committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships.”
Draft legislation will be presented toward the end of the year and the first same-sex weddings are expected to take place in early 2015.
In a recent Scottish government consultation involving nearly 80,000 participants, 65 per cent supported same-sex marriage. But while backed by Scotland’s main political parties, the proposal has been criticized by Scottish evangelical churches, the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland, which warned that legitimizing same sex marriage is “a dangerous social experiment.”
Sturgeon stressed that government intends to be respectful of the spectrum of views on the issue and that no members of clergy will be forced to perform gay marriages against their will. The legislation will include protections and conscience clauses for churches and individuals who object to gay marriage on theological grounds.