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Scotland Advances Marriage Equality Bill in 98-15 Vote

Scotland's marriage equality bill moved forward in parliament yesterday, the BBC reports:

ScotlandThe Scottish government's Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill passed the first of three parliamentary hurdles by 98 votes to 15 with five abstentions.

Ministers said the move was the right thing to do, but the Church of Scotland and Catholic Church are opposed. Religious and belief bodies would "opt in" to perform same-sex marriages.

Same-sex couples in Scotland currently have the option to enter into civil partnerships, and there has been an indication that the earliest gay marriage ceremonies could take place by the start of 2015, if the legislation is passed.

The bill must now pass through a parliamentary committee before it is considered again by the full parliament, probably early next year.

If you'd like to watch the whole debate of the bill yesterday, you can do so,
AFTER THE JUMP...

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Scotland to Take First Vote on Marriage Equality Today: Watch it LIVE

Scotland

Scotland's parliament is set to take its first vote on marriage equality today, the BBC reports:

The Scottish government's Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill is likely to be backed in principle, when MSPs vote on it for the first time. Ministers said the move was the right thing to do but the Church of Scotland and Catholic Church are opposed. Under the bill, religious and belief bodies would need to "opt in" to perform same-sex marriages. Individual celebrants who felt it would go against their faith to carry out same-sex weddings would also be protected, and the Scottish government has insisted no part of the religious community would be forced to hold ceremonies for homosexual couples in churches. MSPs are being allowed a free vote on the legislation, rather than along party lines.

They add:

Same-sex couples in Scotland currently have the option to enter into civil partnerships, and there has been an indication that the earliest gay marriage ceremonies could take place by the start of 2015, if the legislation is passed. The bill was brought forward after a Scottish government consultation, which produced a record 77,508 responses.

You can watch the vote live  starting at approximately 12:05 pm ET.

Watch LIVE (opens in new window), AFTER THE JUMP...

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Scotland Hastening The Legalization Of Gay Marriage

Scottish Gay Couple

It's not just in the United States that marriage equality is making leaps and bounds, it's taking off on the international stage as well with Mexico, Great Britain, and New Zealand all legalizing gay marriage in the past year. Scotland, having been accused of letting their own equality legislation slip behind schedule, have now decided to fast-track the legalization of gay marriage

The Catholic church has, naturally, expressed their distaste, with spokesman John Deighan saying, 

You can only see this as undue haste. It looks like a bandwagon that no-one has been minded to take in the right direction. They ought to remember that if you make law in haste you do not get the best legislation.

Despite the finger-wagging, consideration of the bill to legalize gay marriage will begin next Thursday with two sessions representing each side of the issue. The first will have members from Stonewall Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the Equality Network, and the Scottish Transgender Alliance. The second, the Muslim Council of Scotland, the Methodist Church in Britain, Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office, and the Evangelical Alliance Scotland.

Though dissenters are being allowed their voice, it would seem they are in the minority. A Scottish Government spokesman said,

The Bill is proceeding on schedule with wide cross-party support. The Scottish Government is committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we believe same-sex couples who wish should be allowed to marry as soon as possible.

If the bill is approved, it is projected to have Royal Assent for legislation by March.


Powerful Video Of Binational Couple Reveals DOMA's Devastating Effects: VIDEO

Tim and jamie

Meet Tim and Jamie.  They've been together since August 2006.  They got married in June 2012.  

But in June 2009 they had their first inkling that their international love would be tested: Jamie, a native of Scotland, was detained at SeaTac Airport due to visa problems and was denied the right to call Tim. Now, Jamie and Tim's marriage in Canada cannot be recognized legally in the United States because of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.  

With a Supreme Court decision on the horizon, we can only hope couples like Tim and Jamie will soon be married in the eyes of the law.  

Watch their emotional testimony, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Church of Scotland to Allow Gay Clergy in Historic Shift

The Church of Scotland today narrowly approved a rule which would allow gay and lesbian ministers, reports The Guardian:

Church of Scotland crestThe church's ruling general assembly voted to allow congregations to admit gay ministers but only if they specifically elect to do so, in a radical departure from more than 450 years of orthodoxy set in train by the protestant reformer John Knox.

Despite the new regulations, the general assembly voted down a proposal that would have made acceptance of gay and lesbian clergy the church's default position by a vote of 340 to 282.  The new rule will effectively decentralize the decision-making process, leaving it to individual congregations to choose whether or not to ordain gay ministers in a system known as a "mixed economy."

According to The Guardian, the new rule will likely not take effect until 2015, and must first be written into church law and approved by next year's general assembly.

The BBC adds that the push for consideration of gay clergy began when the first gay minister was appointed by the church four years ago:

The dilemma faced by the Church of Scotland goes back to 2009, when the openly gay minister Scott Rennie (below) was appointed to the Queen's Cross parish in Aberdeen.

He was backed by most of his congregation and by the General Assembly, but the decision resulted in protest and the break-away of a small number of congregations and ministers.

RennieIn 2011, the Church of Scotland's general assembly voted to allow gay and lesbian clergy to remain in their posts, as long as they were either celibate or in civil partnerships.

The church's new rule comes at a time when the debate over marriage equality is in full swing in the UK and the issue of allowing gays to marry in religious ceremonies has caused significant division.  

The UK House of Commons is scheduled to debate the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill today--which would establish marriage equality in England and Wales but not Scotland--although advocates are wary of a last minute push by opponents of marriage equality to include a provision that would extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples.  The proposed legislation would allow same-sex couples access to civil marriage ceremonies only, and would bar them from marrying in the Church of England or the Church of Wales.

In December of last year, the Scottish government announced its own draft legislation to legalize marriage equality in the region, and is currently seeking public feedback on the measure.  Under the Scottish proposal, religious institutions would be allowed to "opt in" to wedding gay and lesbian couples.  Up until this point, the Church of Scotland has opposed the marriage equality bill, and while it seems unlikely that will change any time soon, the inclusion of gay clergy is certainly a step towards greater acceptance of the Scottish LGBT community. 


Priests Allege 'Inappropriate Behavior' By Britain's Top Catholic

Three priests and a former priest in the United Kingdom have accused anti-gay Cardinal Keith O'Brien of what The Observer reports as "inappropriate behaviour" involving the men. The newspaper lists the claims by the four (referred to as Priests A, B, C & D) which go back 33 years:

ObrienIt is understood that the first allegation against the cardinal dates back to 1980. The complainant, who is now married, was then a 20-year-old seminarian at St Andrew's College, Drygrange, where O'Brien was his "spiritual director". The Observer understands that the statement claims O'Brien made an inappropriate approach after night prayers.

In a second statement, "Priest A" describes being happily settled in a parish when he claims he was visited by O'Brien and inappropriate contact between the two took place.

In a third statement, "Priest B" claims that he was starting his ministry in the 1980s when he was invited to spend a week "getting to know" O'Brien at the archbishop's residence. His statement alleges that he found himself dealing with what he describes as unwanted behaviour by the cardinal after a late-night drinking session.

"Priest C" was a young priest the cardinal was counselling over personal problems. Priest C's statement claims that O'Brien used night prayers as an excuse for inappropriate contact.

Through a spokesperson, the Cardinal has already responded to the charges: "Cardinal O'Brien contests these claims and is taking legal advice."

The Pope might even weigh in with his thoughts.

O'Brien has in the past referred to marriage equality as "harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved." 

O'Brien, who is expected to be one of 117 Cardinals who select the new Pope once Benedict steps down on Thursday, had himself been set to retire next month. 


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