Scotland celebrates first same-sex weddings

Besi Besemar December 31, 2014

Scotland’s first same-sex weddings took place on the stroke of midnight as two couples became the first to tie-the-knot following the passage of Scotland’s historic equal marriage legislation earlier this year.

Joe Schofield and Malcolm Brown
Joe Schofield and Malcolm Brown

THE FIRST two weddings both took place at the same time in Glasgow, when Joe Schofield and Malcolm Brown were married in a humanist ceremony at the Trades Hall, and Susan and Gerrie Douglas-Scott, were also married in a civil ceremony at a private venue.

The couples were joined by their families and friends, as well as guests, LGBTI equality campaigners, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP and Convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie MSP, who acted as witnesses at the marriage of Susan and Gerrie, while Scots Makar Liz Lochhead and Scottish Government Minister Marco Biagi MSP acted as witnesses for Joe and Malcolm.

Susan and Gerrie Douglas-Scott
Susan and Gerrie Douglas-Scott

Seventeen same-sex couples are set to marry today throughout Scotland. Over 250 couples have converted their civil partnerships to marriage since the new law came into effect on December 16, 2014.

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 weddings and celebrated the occasion as a “milestone moment for Scotland”.

Tom French
Tom French

Tom French, Policy and Public Affairs Coordinator for the Equality Network, said: “It was an honour to be invited to one of Scotland’s first same-sex weddings, which really showed what this new law is all about – love, family and equality. 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. In recent years Scotland has become a leading light on LGBTI equality, and we now have one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world, helping to create the fair and equal society we all want to see.”

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.

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!’.”

Susan (54) and Gerrie (59) Douglas-Scott, who are both humanist marriage celebrants themselves, live in Glasgow where they first met 18 years ago and have five grown up children. They originally had a civil partnership in March 2006 and decided to convert it through a full marriage ceremony.

Susan and Gerrie, 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. Having Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie as our witnesses has been wonderful and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts not only for tonight but for everything they have done and will continue to do in support of LGBTI people.  We are also very thankful to our lovely celebrant Mandy Evans-Ewing and to Fiona Borland the City Registrar of Glasgow.  Both women have made our ceremony so special and meaningful and we are especially grateful for them volunteering to marry us at midnight. We are excited to be the first lesbians to have a legal marriage ceremony in Scotland. 2014 has been quite a year!”

Marco Biagi MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment has been responsibile for bringing the new law into effect.

Marco Biagi MSP
Marco Biagi MSP

He 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.”

In February, 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 December 16, 2014.

From December 16, 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 December 31, 2014. Same-sex couples in an existing Scottish Civil Partnership have been able to convert it to a marriage since December 16, through a simple administrative process that remains free of charge for the first year of the new law (until December 15, 2015).