Scotland’s first same-sex weddings took place at the stroke of midnight on Hogmanay as Joe and Malx became the first to tie-the-knot in a marriage ceremony following the passage of Scotland’s historic equal marriage legislation earlier this year.
The first wedding took place in Glasgow, when Joe Schofield and Malcolm Brown were married in a humanist ceremony at the Trades Hall.
The couple were joined by their families and friends, as well as guests including LGBTI equality campaigners, while Scots Makar Liz Lochhead and Scottish Government Minister Marco Biagi MSP acted as witnesses for Joe and Malcolm.
The Equality Network, Scotland’s national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality charity, who ran the Equal Marriage campaign in Scotland, attended the first wedding and celebrated the occasion as a ‘milestone moment for Scotland’.
Joe Schofield (42), a public health worker, and Malcolm Brown (42), a former DJ, from Tullibody in Clackmannanshire, have been together for nine years and were married by Humanist Society Scotland celebrant Ross Wright.
Celebrating their marriage, Joe and Malcolm said:
Today we are finally recognised as a married couple. 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. We’d particularly like to thank the Humanist Society Scotland for a fantastic ceremony, the Equality Network and the Scottish Government who made equal marriage possible, and to everyone else who made today such a memorable occasion. At last, we and so many other same-sex couples can finally say ‘we’re married!’.
Marco Biagi MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment who had responsibility for bringing the new law into effect, said:
It is a privilege and a pleasure to be invited to watch Joe and Malcolm make their vows in front of their family and friends. 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. The historic legislation that the parliament passed earlier this year really has now come to fruition with couples in a same-sex relationship now able to legally marry as any other couple can. 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. This promises to be a very happy New Year.
Ross Wright, the Humanist Society Scotland marriage celebrant, who played a part in the equal marriage campaign and solemnised Joe and Malcolm’s wedding ceremony, said:
It was a real privilege to have been asked, on behalf of Humanist Society Scotland, to conduct Joe and Malx Wedding ceremony. They are a lovely couple and thanks to the new equal marriage law they now officially husband and husband. I’ve campaigned for LGBTI rights all my life and, as a gay man myself, I think the new law is particularly important because it signals that all people in Scotland deserve to be treated equally, a central plank of humanist thinking. I’m so happy for Joe and Malx, and I wish all couples who can now marry the very best for their married lives together!
Liz Lochhead, Scotland’s Makar and a Distinguished Supporter of the Humanist Society Scotland, read a special wedding sonnet:
For Marriage, love and love alone’s the argument.
Sweet ceremony, then hand in hand we go
Taking to our changed, still dangerous days, our complement.
We think we know ourselves, but all we know
Is: love surprises us. It’s like when sunlight flings
A sudden shaft that lights up glamorous the rain
Across a city street — or when unexpected Spring’s
First crisp, dry breath turns the air champagne.
Delight’s infectious — your quotidian friends
Put on, with gladrag finery today, your joy,
Renew in themselves the right true ends
They won’t let old griefs, old lives destroy.
When at our lover’s feet our opened selves we’ve laid
We find ourselves, and all the world, remade.
Scottish Government figures reveal that 17 same-sex couples are set to marry in Scotland on Hogmanay (31 December 2014) and, in addition, over 250 couples have converted their civil partnerships to marriage since the new law came into effect on 16 December 2014. Same-sex marriages have now been registered in at least 28 of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas, from Dumfries and Galloway to the Shetland Islands: www.equality-network.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Same-sex-marriage-statistics.pdf
In February, Scotland became the 17th Country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage 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, following the passage of the necessary secondary legislation, the law came into effect on 16 December 2014.
From 16 December 2014 same-sex couples have been able to give notice to marry in Scotland, and after the usual 15 day notice period for marriages the first same-sex marriage ceremonies took place at midnight on 31 December 2014. Same-sex couples in an existing Scottish Civil Partnership have been able to convert it to a marriage since 16 December through a simple administrative process that remains free of charge for the first year of the new law (until 15 December 2015).
To mark the new law the Equality Network has published a new guide to same-sex marriage and civil partnership law in Scotland, sponsored by UK law firm BLM and with a Foreword from Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. A digital version of the guide has been published online and 10,000 copies of a printed edition will be distributed across Scotland in January: www.equality-network.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Marriage-and-Civil-Partnership-in-Scotland.pdf
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