Scotland’s Same-Sex Marriages to Start in 2015 as Bill Published

The first same-sex marriages in Scotland are set to take place in 2015 after the government in Edinburgh published the legislation today.

Churches and other religious groups will have the right to decline to carry out the weddings, while officials in organizations adopting the new law will be protected if they consider such ceremonies contrary to their faith, the Scottish National Party-run government said in an e-mailed statement.

“This is a historic moment for equal rights in our country,” Health Secretary Alex Neil said in the statement. “We are striving to create a Scotland that is fairer and more tolerant, where everyone is treated equally. That is why we believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.”

Legislation introduced by the U.K. government to allow same-sex marriages in England and Wales has split Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party. The Scottish bill is expected to become law in early 2014 after passing through the Scottish Parliament, in which the SNP holds a majority of seats.

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