ON Tuesday, in one of the Scottish Parliament's genuinely historic moments, MSPs will vote on whether this country becomes the 17th in the world to legalise same- sex marriage.
Judging by preliminary votes at Holyrood, our MSPs will overwhelmingly say yes to the SNP Government's proposals and remove the last major piece of sexual discrimination from Scots law.
Considering Scotland only decriminalised homosexuality in 1980, the passage of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill shows a remarkable evolution in attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Even a decade ago, in what now seems a different era, the public debate over whether to "Keep the Clause", which suppressed the discussion of homosexuality in schools, was characterised by tremendous vitriol and bitterness.
This newspaper supported repeal of Clause 2A then, and it supports legalisation of same-sex marriage now.
It is remarkable, and admirable, that the debate over the current legislation, while heartfelt and passionate, has by and large been conducted in a civil and respectful manner.
There were some exceptions, such as Cardinal Keith O'Brien, whose hypocritical attacks on homosexuality compounded his disgrace. But even before his fall, it was clear that he and majority public opinion had parted company, with most people agreeing that love, not sexual orientation, should be the basis for marriage.
As the hate-filled discrimination in Russia and many African nations against homosexuality reminds us, the fight for gay rights continues.
But Scotland, like its Parliament, has matured, and in that we can be proud.
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