Same sex marriage



by Milena Popova

 Scottish news and opinion: Same sex marriage



Just in time for LGBT History Month Scottish politics provided the best news headline of the year so far: Opposition party leaders unite over same-sex marriage.

Had the headline referred to any other country, I would have dreaded clicking on the link. After all, as recently as 2010, there were more countries in the world where homosexuality was punishable by death than countries which permitted same-sex marriage. In Scotland, though, this headline heralded unity across the political spectrum in support of marriage equality.

While there are some internal divisions within the party on the subject, the SNP has repeatedly made clear its commitment to marriage equality in both words and actions. It featured as a commitment in the party's election manifesto; Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reiterated it in her keynote speech at last year's Stonewall Scotland Workplace Conference; and Scotland is ahead of the rest of the UK, having already completed a government consultation on extending the right to marry to same-sex couples.

The UK government in the meantime continues to drag its feet. A consultation was originally meant to start in summer 2011 as discussed, for instance, by Theresa May in her keynote speech at Stonewall's Workplace Conference in London in March last year. The date was then pushed to September, and more recently to March 2012. Theresa May is coming back to the Workplace Conference this April - the jury is out on whether the consultation will actually have started by then.

In the meantime, conservative religious groups are losing no time to rally in opposition to equal marriage proposals. February saw the launch of a self-proclaimed "grassroots campaign group against the redefinition of marriage in the United Kingdom" - the Coalition for Marriage or C4M for short. In Scotland, too, we have seen vociferous opposition to marriage equality from across the spectrum of Christianity. In fact, the joke among my Scottish friends goes that gay marriage has already achieved the impossible in Scotland, in getting Catholics and Free Presbyterians to agree on something.

Opposition aside, the fact remains that Scotland now appears to be at least two years ahead of England and Wales on the issue of same-sex marriage. In its announcement of the original consultation the Scottish government indicated that a Bill could be brought before the Scottish Parliament as early at next year. With the main opposition parties now also clearly supporting the project, I have high hopes that Scotland will soon join the slowly growing list of countries with full marriage equality. In England and Wales, on the other hand, it is rapidly becoming questionable whether we will see a same-sex marriage Bill in this Parliament. This poses some interesting questions, as the UK does not currently recognise same-sex marriages concluded overseas and converts them to civil partnerships instead. Would this policy also extend to Scottish same-sex marriages while the UK government continues to pontificate?

I, for one, am looking forward to Gretna Green becoming the UK's gay wedding capital!

Milena Popova

Milena is an economist and political scientist by education, an IT manager by trade, and a campaigner for digital rights, equality and diversity by persuasion. She lives in England, is a passionate European and has a huge soft spot for Scotland. Studying political science has left her with a strong interest in political structures and constitutional issues.

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Showing 5 reactions

commented 2012-05-13 16:50:53 +0100 · Flag
Im all for equality in the things that matter,but for equality in same sex marriage should fall way short in societies list of needs & must have’s,especially when their legal rights are already being met.I ask you,where will all this eventually lead.
Are they trying to prove “normality” or something.
There is a reason why men haveonly traditionally married only women,& why only women have a womb.
Im sorry,when we gave contraception to our children,society sold its soul.Its now okay for two same sex school kids to have sex!!!!!!!!!
Sure,we all think of this issue as relating to adults but this is the new grassroots…………well,at least they may get married & divorce like the rest of us & remarry the opposite sex……….but would that not just be sick or simply “Cool”. lol
commented 2012-04-14 00:07:58 +0100 · Flag
A slight correction on ‘vociferous opposition to marriage equality from across the spectrum of Christianity’ in that the petition was an unholy alliance between some of the evangelicals and the official voice of Catholicism. Having taken part in the CofS discussions on a parish level about the hoo-ha a while back about LBGT ministers, the broad consensus was no problem. It reminds me of the campaign to repeal Section 28 (2A); when the voice of some Christians joined the campaign of Brian Souter to keep the clause, the campaign for repeal got speakers from literally across the spectrum from RC to evangelicals to make it plain that the homophobic voices were not representing them. I hope we continue to give the message of refusing to tolerate intolerance, as it were.
commented 2012-02-28 12:47:35 +0000 · Flag
The majority of Scots support gay marriage? I didn’t realise we had had a referendum on the subject.
While I have no problems with being all being treated as equals, and not being discriminated against as regards employment, etc, I do believe that marriage falls outside the scope of this, and should be between a man and a woman.
I fear the actions of a motivated, organised and vocal minority, aided by the political parties, will trump the views of the majority of Scots, based on the results of one much trumpeted opinion poll.
commented 2012-02-27 21:08:32 +0000 · Flag
If the majority of British people support same sex marriage, and they do. Why do the majority have to justify their position to the minority is media and public forums as if it was something improper ?.
Same sex relationships and marriages are not improper by the views of the majority. End of story.
The minority religious view does not have a right to impose that view on everyone else.
If they do not wish same sex relationships or marriage in their personal lives that is their right. It is also the right of same sex couples to have relationships and marriage if they choose, as confirmed by the majority view.
published this page in Blog 2012-02-27 18:10:19 +0000