Former first minister Jack McConnell has urged the Scottish Government to introduce same-sex marriage.
Lord McConnell insisted gay people were not "second-class citizens with fewer rights" as he called on MSPs and ministers to "go for equality over discrimination".
He made the plea in a public letter to the Equality Network, which has been campaigning for same-sex marriage to be introduced.
Some 77,000 people responded to a Scottish Government consultation on the issue, with ministers expected to announce their decision in the coming days.
At the start of the consultation the government said it "tends towards the view" that same-sex marriage should be introduced, but that faith groups and their celebrants should not be obliged to solemnise the ceremonies.
Lord McConnell was first minister when civil partnerships were introduced and argued that prior to this same-sex couples "had few of the basic rights that other couples could take for granted", including the "right to have their relationships recognised in the eyes of the law".
But while he said civil partnerships were "the right thing for Scotland in 2005 it is clear that attitudes have progressed".
He added it was now time to give same-sex couples the "full legal and social equality that they deserve".
In his letter, the former Labour MSP said: "In Scotland today almost everyone will know a gay family member, friend or colleague.
"Like my family most Scots will want to see the people they love and care about treated as equals, not as second-class citizens with fewer rights and a lesser status."
Tom French, policy co-ordinator for the Equality Network, said he was "delighted by Lord McConnell's firm support for equal marriage".
Last month the Equality Network said a majority of MSPs backed the introduction of same-sex marriage, with 69 MSPs having signed a pledge supporting this, including the leaders of all the opposition parties, most SNP and Labour MSPs, and all Liberal Democrat and Green MSPs.
However, a number of religious groups have spoken out against same-sex marriage, with the group Scotland for Marriage formed to campaign against changing the law.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has already said that two-thirds of those who responded to the consultation are opposed to the idea.
Speaking in April, he urged the Scottish Government to listen to them and "abandon this crazy plan to dismantle marriage, which has only ever meant the union of a man and a woman".
If the government decides to legislate to introduce same-sex marriage, there would be a further consultation on a draft Bill.
A finalised Bill could then be introduced into the Scottish Parliament in 2013.