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Family Law Specialist Chris McIntosh on legalising gay marriage

Following on from David Cameron's recent announcement that he intends to change Matrimonial Law to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales by 2015, the Scottish National Party (SNP) yesterday announced that it intends to legalise gay marriage in Scotland. It is intended that the draft bill will be published later this year and that the first ceremonies would take place in Scotland by 2015 as well.   The pace of society's changing attitudes on this topic can be seen by the fact that these developments come only six years after Susan Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger's failed High Court bid to have their Canadian marriage recognised as a marriage rather than a Civil Partnership in England and Wales.  However, this step towards marriage equality for gay couples was not greeted with enthusiasm by all sections of society.  In particular the Catholic Church in Scotland stated "The Scottish government is embarking on a dangerous social experiment on a massive scale." This is notwithstanding that the SNP have confirmed that religious groups would be free to refuse to hold same-sex weddings.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, it has been reported today that New Zealand will be holding a vote on the legalisation of gay marriage within the next two months. The position in New Zealand is currently similar to that of England and Wales: it allows same sex Civil Unions with all the rights of marriage without the title of marriage. While the pace of change may not have been as fast as many people would have hoped, it does seem that genuine marriage equality for all is now just around the corner. By Chris McIntosh, Family Law expert

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