It took ten additional months, but legal marriage equality has officially arrived in Scotland. The country’s parliament approved the law in February by a vote of 105-18, one of the strongest endorsements of marriage equality by any legislative body. Scotland joins its United Kingdom counterparts England and Wales, leaving Northern Ireland as the only part of the Kingdom that doesn’t recognize same-sex couples’ marriages.
Couples can now give their first notice of intention and begin holding ceremonies following the usual 15 day notice period on December 31. Those who are already in civil partnerships do not have to wait and can immediately convert to marriage for free, and those in marriages legal in foreign jurisdictions will now be recognized. One couple living in Australia converted their partnerships at the British Consulate as soon as the law came into effect Tuesday morning.
Scotland’s law also includes unique protections for transgender people. Before it took effect, transgender people were forced to divorce before they were allowed to legally transition their gender. A spouse could thus block their partner’s decision to transition. Transgender people will no longer face this awkward complication, and genderqueer people can enjoy gender-neutral language in their ceremony and on forms.