Scotland

First same-sex weddings take place in Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon, Susan and Gerrie Douglas Scott and Patrick Harvie Image copyright Elaine Livingstone
Image caption Susan (left) and Gerrie Douglas-Scott had Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie as witnesses at their wedding

Scotland's first same-sex weddings have taken place.

Joe Schofield and Malcolm Brown tied the knot at a humanist ceremony at the Trades Hall in Glasgow, while Susan and Gerrie Douglas-Scott married in private in the city.

The new law on gay marriage came into effect in Scotland earlier this month and these first weddings were held at 00:01 on Hogmanay.

The couples were joined by guests including the first minister.

Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP acted as witnesses at the marriage of Susan and Gerrie, while Scotland's national poet Liz Lochhead and Scottish government minister Marco Biagi MSP attended the ceremony for Mr Schofield and Mr Brown.

'Quite a year'

Susan, 54, and Gerrie Douglas-Scott, who is 59, live in Glasgow where they first met 18 years ago and have five grown up children.

They had a civil partnership in March 2006 and decided to convert it through a full marriage ceremony.

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Media captionSame sex marriage became legal in Scotland earlier this month

The couple 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 excited to be the first lesbians to have a legal marriage ceremony in Scotland. 2014 has been quite a year."

Image copyright Tinged Memories/Equality Network
Image caption Joe Schofield (left) and partner Malcolm Brown (right) were among the first to marry under the new law

Mr Schofield, 42, a public health worker, and Mr Brown, a former DJ who is also 42, have been together for nine years and are from Tullibody in Clackmannanshire.

They 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."

A total of 250 couples have converted their civil partnerships to marriage since the new law - the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill - came into effect on 16 December.

Following the usual 15-day notice period for marriages, Hogmanay was the first day same-sex weddings could take place.

Same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales earlier this year and the first weddings took place in March.

Scotland's first minister said: "This a momentous day for equality in Scotland, one where same sex couples have the right to marry the person that they love.

"This will send a powerful message to people about the kind of country we are."

According to the Scottish government, a total of 17 same-sex couples were expected to marry on Hogmanay.

'Big day'

Tom French, from the Equality Network charity - which campaigns for the rights of Scotland's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities - 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."

Tourism body VisitScotland and charity Stonewall Scotland welcomed the first same-sex weddings.

VisitScotland said the new law would further promote Scotland as a friendly tourist destination for the LGBTI communities, and could enhance the country's already burgeoning market for marriage tourism.

Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: "This historic change in the law is the result of a tireless campaign by many organisations, including Stonewall Scotland, parliamentarians and individuals to ensure that same-sex couples can enjoy full equality before the law.

"While there is still lots to do before the lived day-to-day experience of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is truly equal in Scotland, this is a day of celebration and what better way to celebrate Hogmanay by saying I do to equal marriage."

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