"We are 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 -- we believe that this is the right thing to do. The Scottish government has already made clear that no religious body will be compelled to conduct same-sex marriages and we reiterate that today. Such protection is provided for under existing equality laws. However, our view is that to give certainty on protection for individual celebrants taking a different view from a religious body that does agree to conduct same-sex marriages, an amendment will be required to the UK Equality Act."
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's deputy first minister, remarking on the government's confirmation that they would introduce a bill to the Scottish Parliament later this year on the issue of same-sex marriage. If passed, it would make Scotland the first area in the UK to introduce gay marriage and if all goes well the first ceremonies could take place starting in 2015.
The move was opposed by the Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland. A spokesperson for the church remarked to BBC News:
"The Scottish government is embarking on a dangerous social experiment on a massive scale. We strongly suspect that time will show the Church to have been completely correct in explaining that same-sex sexual relationships are detrimental to any love expressed within profound friendships."
Heralding the government's announcement, Tom French, policy co-ordinator for the Equality Network, took a more level-headed, sane approach:
"Same-sex marriage is about equality and freedom -- the freedom for couples, and religious and humanist groups that want to, to celebrate same-sex marriages, but equally, upholding the freedom of other religious groups to say no to same-sex marriages. That's the right way for Scotland to deal with the different opinions on this."
Currently, Scotland offers civil partnerships, which provide the same legal treatment as marriage, but are viewed "as distinct from marriage." The UK government is exploring the notion of same-sex marriage in England and Wales, as well.
Source: BBC News: Scotland Politics
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