Bill to redefine marriage passed by Scottish Parliament

A Bill to redefine marriage in Scotland was passed by MSPs last night in a final vote at Holyrood.

MSPs voted 105 to 18 in favour of same-sex marriage, and rejected amendments to provide greater civil liberty protections for people who believe in traditional marriage.

Among the MSPs who opposed the Bill were the SNP’s John Mason and Richard Lyle, Liz Smith of the Conservative Party, and Labour’s Elaine Smith.

Campaign

The campaign group Scotland for Marriage warned that, by passing this Bill, Holyrood politicians have disregarded the views of ordinary citizens.

A spokesman said: “This has been a sad day for those who believe in and who have fought for traditional marriage.

“The overwhelming majority of MSPs have completely ignored public opinion and steam-rollered through a law which is ill-conceived, poorly thought out and will, in time, discriminate against ordinary people for their sincerely held beliefs.”

Legal

And Alan Hamilton, convenor of the Kirk’s legal questions committee, said the new law may force Church of Scotland marriages “out of the present legal framework”.

“We are also concerned that public servants, particularly registrars and teachers, who do not support same-sex marriage, may find themselves disadvantaged in the workplace”, he added.

MSP John Mason tabled a series of amendments to the Bill, including one calling for recognition that a belief in the traditional view of marriage should be deemed worthy of respect.

Compelled

He also put forward a change which would mean no-one could be “compelled by any means” to conduct same-sex ceremonies, including by a contract or legal requirement.

These amendments were all voted down by MSPs.

During the debate, health secretary Alex Neil said the Scottish Government “respected the decision” of those religious groups who did not want to perform gay marriages, and claimed there are protections in the legislation “so they can not be forced” to take part.

Powerful

He also said: “This legislation sends a powerful message to the world about the kind of society we in Scotland are trying to create – a nation where the principles of fairness and equality are weaved into the very fabric of our society.”

Supporters and opponents of gay marriage rallied outside the Scottish Parliament as the Bill’s final vote took place.

Ahead of the vote, Scotland for Marriage’s petition of 54,000 signatures was handed over to the Scottish Government.

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