The freedom to marry takes effect in Scotland on December 31

This week, the Scottish parliament announced that same-sex couples can begin to get married in Scotland on December 31. The Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill, which was passed in February, will take place on December 16, and marriages can start on New Year’s Eve.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill passed by a vote of 105 to 18. In a previous vote, the bill also overwhelmingly passed, with 98 lawmakers in favor and just 15 opposed. This year, the freedom to marry also took effect in the United Kingdom’s England and Wales.

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Alex Neil said:

It is wonderful that same sex couples can now begin to make plans to have their marriage just as any other couple can. This historic legislation had overwhelming support across the Scottish Parliament, demonstrating to the world how importantly Scotland views equality…. It will be a proud and no doubt emotional day for many, and I, for one, can’t wait.

Tom French of the Equality Network, a Scottish LGBT organization, expressed his excitement:

The 31st December 2014 will be a date that is remembered for many years to come, and a profoundly emotional day for those couples who celebrate their commitment to each other, and for all LGBTI people who grew up in a country where being gay was still criminalised until 1981.

In 19 countries, same-sex couples can share in the freedom to marry. In 17, same-sex couples can marry nationwide: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, Brazil, France, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom (including England, Wales and Scotland). Two others have taken regional steps to allow same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry in parts of the country: Mexico and the United States.

Read more about the freedom to marry internationally here.