The Scottish Parliament has passed a bill that will allow same-sex marriages to be performed later this year, but religious organisations have the right not to perform them, reports the Catholic News Service.
Members of the Scottish Parliament supported the legislation, 105-18, at the end of a Feb. 4 debate, and applauded when the result was announced. Lawmakers had rejected pleas from the Catholic Church to oppose the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill and also resisted attempts to amend it.
The bill will be sent to Queen Elizabeth II for the formality of royal assent, before it will become law, with the first same-sex marriages expected in Scotland at the earliest at the end of July.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland said in a statement yesterday that the bishops were 'disappointed' by the outcome of the vote. 'It does not change the Church's understanding of our commitment to the sacrament of marriage,' the statement added.
The bill offers some protection to the churches by not compelling religious organisations to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples but instead allows them to 'opt in' to the legislation. Clerics whose religious organisation have not opted into the law will not be able to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.
During the debate, Alex Neil, secretary for health and well-being, said the Scottish Assembly had 'got the balance right in the bill.'
Disregarding church organisations, Scotland legalises same-sex marriages (Catholic Online)