SCOTLAND’S first same-sex marriages will take place today as new laws legalising the change come into force.
Melbourne couple Douglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster were due to be the first to take advantage of the change by using the time difference in Australia to convert their Scottish civil partnership to marriage on the stroke of midnight UK time.
The couple hailed the move as an “important step forward for equality” in society.
Later today, Scott and David Barclay are set to become the first Scottish-based gay couple to have their civil partnership converted to marriage in Glasgow.
Mr Pretsell, 47, who is originally from Edinburgh, and Mr Gloster, also 47, who hails from Melbourne, have been together for seven years and had their civil partnership in August 2010 at Fenton Tower in North Berwick, East Lothian.
“We are so proud of Scotland for introducing equal marriage,” they said yesterday.
“Prior to today, same-sex couples were deliberately treated as though our relationships were inferior and not worthy of the same recognition or respect. Well from today its official, we are married and we have the certificate to prove it.”
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Scotland became the 17th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage in February 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.
Scott Barclay, 34, and David Barclay, 33, from Glasgow, have been together for 11 years and had their civil partnership in June 2007.
The couple planned to convert their civil partnership to marriage first thing this morning at Glasgow City Council Registration Office, joined by Scottish Government minister Marco Biagi.
They said the change would make them “truly equal in the eyes of the law”.
“We are very proud to be part of this historic change and want to thank the Equality Network, the Scottish Government and all those who spoke out and fought for our equality,” they said.
“This is hugely personal for us as despite being in a committed relationship for nearly 11 years, paying our taxes and making an equal contribution to society, we have always been very aware that we were not offered the same treatment or respect, and have until now been denied the equal right to get married just like our straight friends and family.”
Support for same-sex marriage reached a record high in Scotland, with more than two-thirds of people polled agreeing that gay couples should be allowed to tie the knot, according to new research.
A total of 68 per cent believe gay or lesbian couples should have the right to marry, up from just over two-fifths of the public (41 per cent) in 2002, ScotCen research found.
Mr Biagi, the Scottish Government minister for local government and community empowerment, said: “I am absolutely delighted that same-sex couples will now have the same rights to be married as everyone else.
“This is another very important day for everyone in Scotland and sends a very clear message to the rest of the world about how we view equality.”
It will be another fortnight – on Hogmanay – before the first same sex weddings can be staged in Scotland as a 15-day notice period is required before a wedding can be held.
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