Scotland has announced plans to become the first part of Britain to legalise gay marriage.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland's devolved government would late this year publish a draft bill permitting same-sex weddings, which could allow the first ceremonies to take place at the start of 2015.
Sturgeon said the decision was "the right thing to do", adding that the government was "committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal".
Equality groups welcomed the move but church leaders condemned it.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said the plans were a "dangerous social experiment on a massive scale".
The announcement came after 65 per cent of the nearly 80,000 people who took part in a Scottish government consultation supported same-sex marriage.
Civil partnerships for same-sex couples were introduced in Britain in December 2005, giving them similar rights to married heterosexual couples, but the partnerships cannot legally be referred to as marriages.
The British government has pledged to legalise gay marriage by 2015 despite opposition from some members of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party, the largest party in the ruling coalition.
The Scottish government, headed by the pro-independence Scottish National Party, has separate powers from London which allow it to make its own laws on issues including home affairs.