A gay marriage bill in Scotland got a big boost as it secured “in principle” approval on Wednesday.

Ninety-eight members of the parliament of Scotland voted in favor of the proposed legislation, with only 15 opposed and 5 abstentions. While a final vote remains nearly a year away, Wednesday's action nearly guarantees passage.

Marriage equality supporters staged a rally outside the Scottish Parliament.

“Tonight the Scottish Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to back same-sex marriage and uphold the principle that we should all be equal under the law,” said Tom French, policy coordinator for Equality Network. “This vote is a huge step forward which will send out a strong message that LGBT people are equal and valued members of our society. While there is still more work to do to improve the bill and ensure it becomes law, LGBT people across the country will be celebrating this significant milestone in the journey toward full equality.”

The Reverend Dr. Alan Hamilton of the Church of Scotland insisted that the church is opposed to homophobia despite its opposition to the measure.

“Until any future General Assembly of the Church of Scotland decides otherwise, that remains our position,” Hamilton said. “But our commitment to care for all people, gay and straight, is no less. We stand against homophobia.”

Gay couples can currently marry in 15 countries. A law in England and Wales takes effect next year.