Same-sex Marriage Date for Scotland – 31 December 2014


Exciting news this morning – we have a date for the first same-sex marriages in Scotland. The date is within this year – just. The first day on which most couples will be able to get married will be 31 December 2014, the day known in Scotland as Hogmanay. There’s going to be some parties north of the border that night, I can tell you.

The law will actually change in mid-December, as expected but the Scottish Government has delayed its proposal to increase the notice period to 28 days. Thus, same-sex marriage becomes legal on 16 December 2014. If a couple have been married in another jurisdiction (eg England) then they will be regarded in Scotland as being in a Civil Partnership until midnight on 15 December and regarded as a married couple on 16 December. Couples can give notice to marry on that day and a couple of weeks later can get married on 31 December 2014.

From 16 December 2014 a couple in extenuating circumstances will be able to apply to be able to get married more quickly – this usually applies if one partner is near to death. It is entirely possible that such a couple may be the first to be married but the big celebrations will come right at the turn of the year.

From 16 December, trans people can get gender recognition without having to be divorced.

Couples who have entered a Civil Partnership will be able to apply to a Registrar to convert that to a marriage from 16 December 2014 and it will be free to do so for the first year. (You pay for the marriage certificate just like anyone else but there is no processing fee). Alternatively, couples may pay the usual fees for a marriage ceremony. Couples will be able to be married in a Register Office or by religious or humanist celebrants in certain circumstances.

Couples will be able to be married in the Scottish Episcopal Church with the permission of the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity meeting in General Synod.

Any couple who has entered into a Civil Partnership who converts it to a marriage is welcome if they wish to bring the certificate to St Mary’s where it can be laid on the altar at a Eucharist in thanksgiving for the partnership and for this change in the law.

Civil Partnerships will continue to be available to same-sex couples (but not to straight couples) and I am more than willing to go on blessing such couples.

I’m also willing to bless all couples who have married by a Registrar, using the Service of Benediction that I drew people’s attention to earlier.

Here’s the prayer I will be using to bless couples in church:
God the Father,
God the Son,
God the Holy Spirit,
bless, preserve and keep you;
the Lord look upon you with favour and mercy
and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace,
that you may so live together in this life
that in the world to come you may have life everlasting.

Straight couples marrying who wish to express solidarity with gay couples who wish to get married in Scottish Episcopal Churches should get married in a Register Office and come to church for the Benediction of their marriage just like anyone else wanting to get married.

I’ve yet to decide whether or not to continue to perform legal marriages for straight couples in church after 31 December 2014.

Congratulations are in order not only to those who will be getting married soon but also to all those campaigners who worked to change the law, to parliamentarians who voted for it and civil servants who have been working on it. The brilliant campaigning of the Equality Network has been a powerful force in bringing about change. And inevitably, my mind turns in awe to the members of St Mary’s Cathedral, particularly those belonging to the LGBT group who went out collecting signatures to bring in petition to the Scottish Parliament long before the big campaigns got going.

We changed the world.



Picture Credit – Peter Kolkman Copyright – Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved


  1. Steven says

    Hi Kelvin

    That is really wonderful news. All those who campaigned for this should be quite properly proud. You should also take some significant credit for changing hearts and minds not just in Scotland but throughout the UK.

    In Northern Ireland we remain [as always] behind the times. If a couple gets married in England under the 2013 Act they will have their marriage downgraded under schedule 2, paragraph 2 of the Act to be “treated as” a civil partnership in Northern Ireland. I am hoping to be part of a legal challenge to this provision in the near future.

    Interestingly, I don’t think the Scottish legislation [?] contains a downgrading provision for those from NI who travel to Scotland to marry and then return home.

    All the best.


    • Thanks Steven – Good luck with the legal challenge.

      It will be exciting to see NI catch up. It will be difficult but you’ll all get there.

  2. At last equality, I would definitely want to be at the 1st marriage ceremony, as I’m sure will many other people. Unfortunately if hundreds of people turned up it would cease to be a wedding but would resemble a three ring circus.

  3. It isn’t equality yet, Dharma as same-sex couples are treated entirely differently with regards to getting married by a religious person to the way straight couples are treated. However it is a biggest step yet on the journey.

  4. Suzanne Bryden says

    I’ve yet to decide whether or not to continue to perform legal marriages for straight couples in church after 31 December 2014.

    Sorry Kevin, could you explain that comment for any like me who are not up on the niceties of this matter?

    • Suzanne Bryden says

      Kevin?????? My apologies Kelvin – in a tearing hurry as usual!

    • Well, up until now I’ve been able to marry anyone who was legally entitled to marry. When the law changes I won’t be able to do that, only a subsection of those who are entitled to marry. (ie straight couples wanting to marry).

      If I have a commitment to equality, I must at least ask myself whether I wish to continue to marry straight couples whilst being forced to say no to gay couples.

      Obviously I’d rather treat everyone the same and I’m currently considering the best response from me to the changing situation.

      • Suzanne Bryden says

        I’m still confused about the “we changed the world” comment then. At least, I don’t understand what, if any, fundamental difference this makes as far as the Church is concerned.
        I have to say also, I was brought up short, offended by the “mixed gender marriage” reference used by a contributor above, and it brought home to me I am afraid to say for the first time, how offensive or at least divisive, the term “same sex marriage” must be.

        • The great thing I’m celebrating for is that at the end of the year, mixed gender marriage and same sex marriage will disappear. We’ll just have marriage.

          • Suzanne says

            Well I am still confused . And I am genuinely sorry, as I’ve now read your post three times. If you “just have marriage”, i.e equalitythen why are you having to consider your position on conducting “mixed gender” marriages in Church? And if you are “forced to say no” to same sex couples, then how have you changed the world?
            I am glad if you have changed the world in this way, but your post and subsequent comments don’t make it clear how this is manifesting itself as far as your Church is concerned.

          • Folk from St Mary’s helped get the law changed to allow same-sex couples to get married. It is a momentous change and something a few of us were campaigning for long before other organisations joined in.

            In my life in the church I am also under obligations under Canon Law (ie the rule book that governs the Scottish Episcopal Church). These currently don’t allow me to conduct such marriages, something that I hope will change in time.

            I now find that my church will prevent me from marrying all those who are legally able to be married in Scotland. I must at least ask myself whether I wish to continue to marry those whom the church permits me to marry or whether to opt not to marry anyone at all, encourage all couples to go to the Register Office to marry and then come to church for a blessing.

        • We’ve changed the world. We’re still working on changing the Church.

  5. Meg Rosenfeld says

    From San Francisco come wishes for joy for all the couples who can finally be married in the eyes of the church.

  6. Well kelvin, you’re one mixed up guy!

    “If I’m going to find a suitable husband by 31 December 2014…” – I hope said husband is ready for a quick divorce in 2015 – you don’t marry someone just to up the stats on gay marriage.

    “I’ve yet to decide whether to continue to perform marriages for straight couples…” – sorry I thought you were some sort of minister? Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t ministers marry straight couples any more, just the gay ones?

    As an aside, why are we now discriminating against the 98.8% of straight couples who don’t want their heterosexual marriage to be devalued by constant publicity over the homosexual ones?

    • Goodness, Ali, where to begin?

      If I think treating everyone alike is a good thing then inevitably I face real questions about what to do about a situation whereby because of the church’s rules I can marry some people who can get married legally but can’t marry others. There must at least be a consideration of the possibility that everyone should go to the Registrar to be married and come to church for a blessing at least until the church has made its mind up about marriage.

      I’ve no idea where your 98.8% statistic comes from.

      I’ve yet to meet any straight couples who feel that they will be any the less married because gay couples will be able to marry soon. Perhaps that’s just the circles I move in. But really, not one.

    • Ali you’re right in saying that Kelvin is a minister of religion, he’s an Anglo-Catholic (parish) priest of St Mary’s Scottish Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow. You seem very angry and as one who is known to ‘tell it like it is’ – or at least like I see it – I’m interested in the source of that emotion, which appears to be one of feeling overlooked. It’s so difficult to coherently put one’s life experience into so few words and perhaps the incoherence of the church policy of the SEC (and CofS and CofE) towards same-gender marriage doesn’t help. With my RC background, I’m grateful that these churches have at least the courage to be confused. Kelvin was of course making a quip about finding a fiancé before Hogmanay but his point about conducting mixed-gender marriages is a serious one. Might I suggest that you look at least at the free pages online on my book?
      It may help explain why this change in law is so important and why the response of the churches is largely disappointing. Feel free to contact via my website to give me your response to what you read.

  7. Elizabeth says

    I’m so glad the law will change this year! What celebrations to look forward to!

  8. Rosemary Hannah says

    There is something about the moment when a marriage legally becomes a marriage, isn’t there? I suppose what I am concerned over is that if we take that moment out of church, and only offer blessings, then that moment will leave the church and there will be no especial reason to get it back. Marriage will just become civil marriage. I do not actually know how many people would want to have two such special moments. Maybe they would, because in Europe they do. But I am not sure here it would work. I could easily be wrong.

  9. I know you would say that marriage should not be used as a church recruitment drive but I agree with Rosemary Hannah. I know a number of faithful couples who started out just looking for a pretty venue for their wedding with which they had some vague family connection. If you’d told them they would have to go to a pretty registry office, or hotel, or underwater, first, I’m not sure some of them would have bothered with the church bit. Which would have been their loss and ours.

  10. I was just having fun with ‘mixed-gender marriage’; having grown up with ‘mixed marriage’ being applied to 1 male + 1 female/ 1 RC + 1 Protestant, I thought it would be fun when it simply applied to the first merger irrespective of the second. In that case we’d have ‘mixed marriage’ and another type of marriage described as … ‘homogenous’?

  11. eilish says

    great news.
    wanting to do this.
    thing is i’ve never got married before, i have no idea where to start.
    there is an extreme lack of information on how to go about all this form filling.
    any help would be appreciated.


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