Yet again Scotland has stolen a march on a signal piece of social legislation. It was first to ban smoking in public places, first to introduce a minimum price for alcohol, and now it looks set to be the first to legalise gay marriage. While the UK Government missed the chance to include such a Bill in the Queen's Speech in May, the Scottish Government announced yesterday that it would legislate for the change after a huge response to a public consultation.
Introducing a Bill, of course, and actually passing it into law are different things, and with fierce opposition from, among others, the Catholic Church, its passage may not be as smooth as its cheer-leaders would hope.
Legislation may also be delayed by a requirement that the UK amend its Equality Act. But with public sentiment overwhelmingly in favour, and the move such a patent advance towards equal rights, Westminster should not stand in Scotland's way. On the contrary, it should now seek to catch up.