The Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill on Tuesday that will legalize gay marriage in the country. The vote, 105-18, means that Northern Ireland is the only member of the United Kingdom without equal marriage laws. England and Wales legalized gay marriage last summer.
The bill passed despite the opposition of the country's two biggest churches, the Scottish Catholic Church and Church of Scotland. Neither church has plans to start solemnizing gay marriages when the new law takes effect — churches in the country will have to opt in to equal marriage. Scotland law previously allowed civil unions, but not marriages. Same-sex couples with civil partnerships will be able to convert their unions into marriages when the new law takes effect. That could happen as soon as next October.
The #equalmarriage bill passes by 105 votes to 18 against, with no abstentions. A good day's work... now it's time for the pub!— Patrick Harvie (@patrickharvie) February 4, 2014
Proud to have voted for #equalmarriage. Scotland is a better place tonight.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) February 4, 2014
As the BBC explains, the parliament rejected several amendments that would have reiterated freedom of religion protections in light of the new law. Lawmakers argued that current Scottish law already prevented discrimination against those who believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman, making the extra amendments unnecessary. Those amendments included a provision that stated "a belief in marriage as a voluntary union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others for life is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society."
With today's vote, Scotland is the 17th country in the world to legalize gay marriage.