THE GUARDIAN: Draft legislation will allow gay and lesbian couples to marry with the same rights as heterosexual couples
The Scottish government is to introduce new powers to legalise same-sex marriages in churches and in civil ceremonies, despite vigorous and bitter opposition from church leaders.
A draft bill that will enable gay and lesbian couples to marry with the same legal rights as heterosexual couples will be published later this year and is expected to be enacted next year, after Scottish ministers resisted intense pressure from the Catholic church to drop the proposals.
The legislation will include significant new protections and "conscience clauses" for churches and individual clergy who object to gay marriage on religious grounds, said Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy first minister.
But she added that opposition to the bill – which included 64% of the 62,000 responses from within Scotland to the Scottish government's consultation – had not persuaded her to drop or dilute the measures.
"We believe that in a country that aspires to be an equal and tolerant society, as we do in Scotland, then this is the right thing to do," Sturgeon said. » | Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent | Wednesday, July 25, 2012