Marriage is coming to Scotland

by on July 26, 2012  •  In International, Marriage
edinburgh castle

Yesterday the Scottish Government announced its intent to pass a same-sex marriage law, making it the first country of the UK  to do so (although the English and Welsh governments are developing similar legislation currently).

Public support for the measure is mixed, as detailed in the consultation reports on the government’s web site. However, the Scottish National Party, the majority party in Parliament, strongly supports the measure. In contrast to Denmark’s new law, which requires all state churches to perform the ceremonies, Scottish churches will not be required to do so if they object to the practice. Today’s announcement indicates that individual clergy members will also be exempted through a planned change to Schedule 23 of the UK’s 2010 Equality Act

An initial draft of the bill is expected by the end of the year. Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister of Scotland, told the Guardian she expects the bill to pass in 2013, after additional rounds of consultation and drafting. Barring any unexpected developments, the first wedding bells will ring in 2015.


3 Responses to Marriage is coming to Scotland

  1. Jay July 26, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Despite your previous post saying that the new Danish marriage law requires any church in Denmark to marry same-sex couples, that is not true. The law applies only to the Church of Denmark, the state church to which about 80 percent of Danes are nominal members. It does not apply to other churches, which are not required to marry same-sex couples or anyone else. The Church of Denmark is an Evangelical Lutheran Church that regards itself, as many other Scandinavian state churches, as a “folk church.” It sees itself as ministering to the people of Denmark. Most Danes use the church for baptisms, marriages, and funerals. That is why the government requires the state church to marry any Danish citizen that requests a church marriage.

    • Rachel Kirkland July 26, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      Thank you for this additional information, Jay. My original sources did not make this distinction, but my additional research shows that you’re correct. I’ve updated this post and the post on the Danish law to clarify this point.

      • Jay July 27, 2012 at 9:44 AM

        Thanks for making the correction, Rachel. When Denmark first instituted civil partnerships, the law prohibited them being performed in Church. Gradually, that prohibition was worn down. First, by ministers holding blessing ceremonies at City Halls, then by holding them outside Churches, and finally by disregarding the law (and often the bishops) and holding them in Churches. This is why passing the marriage law, and including the requirement that same-sex couples are entitled to a church wedding in the state church, was relatively easy. A large percentage (about 70%) of Church of Denmark clergy were in favor of the ssm law. The law does include a proviso that any individual clergymember may decline to perform a ssm, but if he or she does so, another clergymember must be found to do the ceremony.

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