TWO couples have tied the knot on the stroke of midnight in Scotland’s first same-sex weddings.
Joe Schofield and Malcolm Brown, both 42, and Susan Douglas-Scott, 54, and Gerrie Douglas-Scott, 59, are the first of 17 couples to marry on Hogmanay.
MSPs passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill in February, making Scotland the 17th country in the world to legalise same-sex ceremonies.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
More than 250 couples have converted their civil partnerships to marriage since the law came into effect on December 16.
Today is the first day after the usual 15-day notice period for marriages that same-sex weddings can take place.
Mr Schofield, a public health worker, and Mr Brown, a former DJ, both from Tullibody in Clackmannanshire, have been together for nine years and were married by Humanist Society Scotland celebrant Ross Wright at the Trades Hall, Glasgow.
In a statement, they said: “We are very proud to be one of the first couples in Scotland to be able to officially call ourselves husband and husband.
“This is an amazing chapter in Scotland’s history which we are all witnessing and can be proud of.
“Scotland is leading the way in fairness and equality for all, and we would like to thank all those who campaigned so tirelessly for this change.”
The Douglas-Scotts, who are both humanist marriage celebrants, live in Glasgow and have five grown-up children.
They had a civil partnership in March 2006 and decided to convert it through a full marriage ceremony at a private venue in the city.
The couple said: “We are delighted that, at long last, after 18 years together our love finally has the same recognition in law and society as all other married couples.
“As humanist celebrants ourselves, we have had the privilege of marrying many hundreds of people over the last few years and so we know how special and important marriage is.”
Both couples were joined by family and friends as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality campaigners.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Green MSP Patrick Harvie acted as witnesses at the marriage of the Douglas-Scotts while Scots Makar Liz Lochhead and local government and community empowerment minister Marco Biagi acted as witnesses for Mr Schofield and Mr Brown.
Mr Biagi said: “With a new year nearly upon us, there really is no better way to celebrate than by watching these two people get married and make that lifelong commitment to each other.
“I am proud of our Parliament in passing the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, and proud of Scotland and the country that we are fast becoming.
“One that is tolerant and fair and that recognises the rights of all its citizens regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.”
Tom French, policy and public affairs co-ordinator for the Equality Network, said: “This is a big day for many couples and their families, but it is also a milestone moment for Scotland as a whole.
“After many years of campaigning, we have overturned discrimination in the law and same-sex couples now have the equal rights and recognition that they should always have been entitled to.
“There is undoubtedly more that we need to do as a society to tackle prejudice and ensure equal treatment for LGBTI people, but today is a day of celebration and a chance to reflect on just how far we’ve come.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “This a momentous day for equality in Scotland, one where same sex couples have the right to marry the person that they love.
“I am personally proud that as Health Secretary, I led the consultation which started this journey. I said then that it was the right thing to do, and I believe that today.
“This will send a powerful message to people about the kind of country we are.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told gay news service PinkNews: “I am so very proud and pleased that gay men and women in England, Wales and ... Scotland can now have their love recognised in the eyes of the law.
“This not only shows that we are changing as a society and becoming more liberal, open and accepting, this also sends out a strong signal to many LGBT people around the world, who do not enjoy the same freedoms as we do, that we stand with them.
“Obviously, we can’t dictate how other nations behave but we can promote the principles we believe in, of a fair and open society, both in the UK and abroad.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS