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Scotland same-sex marriage bill passes parliament's first vote

The Scottish Parliament [official website] completed the first step towards the passage of the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill [text, PDF] on Wednesday by a 98-15 vote [minutes, text] in favor of the bill. Same-sex couples currently have the right to enter a civil partnerships [BBC report] in Scotland, but this bill would introduce same-sex marriage. Proponents of the bill have also stressed its protection of the right of individuals and religious entities to choose not to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Alex Neil [official profile], a member of the parliament and the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing, introduced the bill in June. The Equal Opportunities Committee [official website] of the parliament published its report [text, PDF] on the bill on November 8, which led to the stage one parliament vote, where members voted only on the general principles of the bill. Stage two requires a detailed consideration of the bill by parliamentary committees. During this stage amendments may be added to the original bill. At the third stage, the bill will return to the parliament for a final vote.

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] remains a controversial issue throughout the world. In July the UK legalized [JURIST report] same sex marriages, officially enabling same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies. In June the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that couples in same-sex civil unions should be awarded the same income tax benefits as married couples. Also in June the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled in two landmark same-sex marriage cases. In United States v. Windsor [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the court ruled [JURIST report] that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text] is unconstitutional. In Hollingsworth v. Perry [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the court ruled that the petitioners lacked standing to appeal the district court's order striking down Proposition 8 [text, PDF], California's same-sex marriage ban. In May France legalized [JURIST report] same-sex marriage and established the right of same-sex couples to adopt. Also in May Brazil legalized [JURIST report] same-sex marriage in a court ruling that prevented notaries from denying to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples.

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