Same-sex marriage becomes available in Scotland at the stroke of 12 o’clock tonight and the Humanist Society Scotland will be conducting their first at that moment as celebrant Ross Wright marries Malx Brown and Joe Schofield from Clackmannanshire in a legal humanist marriage ceremony at the Trades Hall in Glasgow. Their witnesses will be Marco Biagi MSP, Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment, and the Scots’ Makar [national poet] Liz Lochhead. The ceremony will mark the arrival of same-sex marriage across the whole of Britain, leaving Northern Ireland as the only part of the UK without marriage equality on grounds of sexual orientation.
The ceremony comes less than a fortnight after the UK Government, in defiance of a public consultation, rejected proposals to give legal recognition to humanist marriages in England and Wales, prompting promises from the Labour, Green, and Liberal Democrat parties that they would give such recognition if elected next year. Humanist weddings have been legal marriages in Scotland for almost a decade and now account for over 10% of all marriages, and it seems likely that the availability of same-sex weddings will accelerate this growth.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Everyone at the BHA wants to send their warmest congratulations to tonight’s happy couples and the best of wishes for married lives of love and fulfilment. We also want to send congratulations to our colleagues in Humanist Society Scotland, who have been given the wonderful privilege of putting the humanist values of love and equality into action in their work. Humanist celebrants have been conducting same-sex weddings across the UK for many decades and it is wonderful to see those ceremonies becoming legal marriages in at least part of the UK tonight.
‘The first same-sex couples to marry in England earlier this year were also humanists, but they had to have their humanist weddings after their legal register office marriages. So for humanists in England and Wales, tonight’s celebration is also tinged with regret. The UK government has played politics with people’s lives by blocking humanist marriages in England and Wales, letting down thousands of couples who could have experienced the same meaningful and personalised legal ceremonies that couples in Scotland will experience tonight and in the years to come. As Scotland leads the way, we will be re-dedicating ourselves in the new year to build on the commitment of the Labour, Green, and Liberal Democrat parties to give legal recognition to humanist marriages in England and Wales.
‘All humanists across the UK will also be re-committing ourselves tonight to work for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland – the one part of the UK still lagging behind on this fundamental civil right.’