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Scotland parliament passes gay marriage into law

The Church of Scotland and the Scottish Catholic Church are being forced to to accept laws allowing gay marriage, which has been approved by the country's parliament.

MSPs voted by 105 to 18 in favour of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill. That's despite 50 church leaders writing to the Scottish government to express "deep concern" over the planned law.

Tuesday's debate was the last chance for opponents to alter the legislation, which could see the first wedding taking place by October.

The Scottish Government had tried to appease opponents of the legislation by including an "opt in" clause in the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill for religious and belief bodies to perform same-sex marriages, but campaign group Scotland for Marriage say the safeguards in the bill do not go far enough.

The Bill puts belief celebrants, such as humanists, on the same footing as religious celebrants and allows civil partnerships to change to marriage. However, the Bill also ensures individual celebrants who felt it would go against their faith to carry out same-sex weddings are protected. It also includes a provision making it clear that the introduction of same-sex marriage has no impact on existing rights to freedom of speech and that it is possible to oppose same-sex marriage "without being homophobic". Quakers have campaigned in favour of same-sex marriage and have said they would allow ceremonies to take place on their premises. Meanwhile, Scotland for Marriage said more than 54,000 people had signed its petition against the Bill by Monday evening. John Mason is a Christian and the MSP for Glasgow East.

Premier's Marcus Jones asked him on the News Hour whether he thought Parliament was ignoring the public:

The Church of Scotland - whose ruling General Assembly last year voted to allow actively gay men and women to become ministers - has said the institution stood against homophobia, but added that the "wide spread of opinion" on gay marriage was reflected among members of congregations across the country.

But speaking from a demonstration outside the Scottish parliament before the vote, Revd Lindsey Biddle who works for the Church of Scotland told Premier's News Hour why she's not accepting the Church's position on the issue:

Legislation to allow gay marriage in England and Wales was passed at Westminster in July last year with the first marriages expected to take place by the end of March.

The Church of England staunchly opposed the legislation and have been banned from carrying out same-sex marriage ceremonies. However a report commissioned by the Church of England has recommended that members of the clergy should be allowed to offer blessings to same-sex couples, if they wish to do so.

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