Danielle Rowley: on Scots having their say on equal marriage


“Love conquers all” apparently. So why, when two people of the same sex love each other, it isn’t as valuable and valid?

Scottish Government launched a consultation on equal marriage, which has caused a national debate between equality groups, politicians and religious groups. The Scottish Youth Parliament launched their campaign ‘Love Equally’ in July, with support from MSPs Patrick Harvie and Marco Biagi. Soon after this, MSP John Mason tabled a motion to parliament against the idea, causing a dispute within the SNP party.

Many supporters of the campaign have asked the question, “When so many other countries are introducing this, why should Scotland fall behind?” Scotland prides itself as being a progressive and accepting nation, so when Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Mexico City and seven US states have made the move, why can’t we?

With a 2006 Scottish social attitudes survey showing that 54% of us agree that “gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry”, it makes one wonder why a consultation is even needed. Surely it is just opening a door for extremist groups to hijack the discussion and flood the results with one-sided opinion.

Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said the government is pro-gay marriage and explains the need for consultation: “Although the government has set out its initial view, we give an absolute assurance that all views will be listened to. No final views have been reached and no decisions have been taken.”

Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP), Grant Costello is working hard to ensure a positive outcome is achieved, “While more Scots are in favour, it is a controversial issue there can be no denying that and I understand the Government’s reasoning for launching their Consultation.” Have a look at their campaign page by clicking here.

For most Scots, they may agree with the change but won’t necessarily take time out to respond. Which brings us to another flaw, do many people even know about the consultation unless it is something they are already passionate about? Many organisations have been working hard to ensure the wide spread awareness of the issue including The Equality Network, LGBT Scotland and NUS Scotland.

Grant ensures that SYP are doing all they can to reach out to ordinary citizens: “We have been running workshops all over the country to train our members on how to use the Scottish Government’s consultation, to allow them to go into schools, local community groups and do street work so that we gain that wide section of society – who might not be as inclined to get a consultation paper themselves but do believe in what we are fighting for.”

The Catholic Church has spoken out against the proposal, with Glasgow archbishop Mario Conti urging all Scottish parishes to oppose the government’s consultation. Whereas religious groups such as Liberal Jews, Unitarians, Humanists (Who perform more religious weddings than anyone else in Scotland bar the Church of Scotland), Quakers, Pagans and the Metropolitan Community Church have met in support of the proposal.

The consultation has now closed; leaving all involved hoping they have done enough to achieve the right response.

* Contributed by Danielle Rowley, Scottish Youth Parliament

Post Author: alex

Alex Rowley is Fife Labour Leader and councillor for The Lochs