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Straight Ahead for Equal Marriage?

MSPs vote overwhelming in favour of equality

A first step in a long road for the Scottish Parliament. On Wednesday 20 November, the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill underwent its first vote in the Scottish Parliament and passed with a majority of 98 votes to 15 (with 5 abstentions). While this is a great start, there is still a long road ahead before marriage equality can become a reality in Scotland.

Despite the freezing temperatures and occasional rain, a large crowd gathered outside the Scottish parliament in advance of the Stage 1 vote in support of the bill. I joined them and found everyone in celebratory mood.

Enthusiastically led by the Equality Network, chants included “all politicians know: Scotland backs equal marriage” and “time for the results to show: Scotland back equal marriage!” A representative from the Equality Network told those gathered that it was both a “historic day” and a “historic occasion.”

Minimum opposition

I’ve attended many rallies and protests before but what made this one stand out was the joyous and optimistic atmosphere. I was not alone in this observation. Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, called the crowd a “positive, happy force” for good and said that equality was what had “won the day”.
Equal marriage is a topic that usually attracts passionate correspondent support and opposition. Last month in Australia, the New South Wales same-sex marriage bill was under pressure from dissenters and some conservative politicians.
In Edinburgh, only four people from a group calling themselves the United Christian Witness Against Same-sex Marriage stood outside the parliament in opposition to the Bill. They silently handed out ‘frequent sinner cards’ and homophobic leaflets detailing what is allegedly wrong with both homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Next steps for turning the draft Bill into law

Alex Neil MSP who has led the Bill said, “I am sure we will take this through stage 2 and stage 3 as early as possible in 2014.”

The Equality Network has a rough timeline of the expected progress of the bill, with the first same-sex marriages possibly taking place in 2015. In addition, Neil stated that there is “no reason to delay.” Stage 2 consists of the bill returning to committee level for amendments.
Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie has urged the Parliament to resist any pressure to make amendments that give “undue license” to those wishing to “perpetrate homophobia.” A major issue likely to come up in amendments is that of transgender rights. The Scottish Transgender Alliance, a branch of the Equality Network, has produced a helpful document addressing issues that may arise and suggests amendments that could be made to the bill to help protect trans rights.
In stage 3, the amended bill returns to parliament for a final vote and. The passage of stage 1 is no reason to be complacent, however, since there is a chance that any amendments made could change how MSPs vote.
Speaking at the rally, Harvie, a notable crowd favourite, summed up the optimism felt by the crowd: "Today [and over the future course of the bill] we’ll have a really genuine sense of pride in our Parliament."

This is a guest post by our volunteer coordinator Risga Carson.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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1 comment

LGBTI equality is a complex matter with many competing "rights" that is made more complex but poor use of language and serious mis-understandings of other people's views.
Same-sex marriage does not create equality for everyone. I do not have precise statistics but I believe that more people are excluded from same-sex marriage than want to enter into it. Marriage, whether it be heterosexual or same-sex is not open to all pairs of people. The laws of marriage specifically prohibit marriage between "close relatives", e.g. siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. Why? Because the evidence is that children born from any such union are more likely to suffer from disabilities. This is a well documented scientific fact.
I believe that what the LGBTI community, supported by AI, should be campaigning for is "financial equality" rather than "sexual relationship equality".
This could be open to any two people including, for example, an elderly father who is being cared for by his spinster daughter. They love each other but when he dies there is a very real likelihood that she will loose her home to pay his inheritance tax.
And so we see that there is a vital difference between a relationship born out of love that could and should be recognisable in law as a "joint financial commitment" and the mis-use of the word "love" when what is really meant is "desire for an intimate sexual relationship".
It is significant that AI regularly campaigns for "free-speech" but I have not seen any support from AI for people who speech against intimate sexual relationships outside of the context of a monogamous heterosexaul relationship (MHR).
In the same way that the laws of marriage (at least in UK) prohibit certain people from marrying Christians believe that the only context for an intimate sexual relationship is within a monogamous heterosexual relationship (ISRinMHR).
Why? In part because this is what was prescribed in the original laws of marriage but, and almost more importantly in today's society, because of the scientific evidence.
If the world practised ISRinMHR then we wouldn't have 12m+ AIDS/HIV orphans in Africa or increasing levels of Sexually Transmitted Deceases or high levels of unwanted teenage pregnancies.
I do not oppose same-sex sexual relationships. I do oppose ANY ISR outside of MHR.
And I want the freedom of speech to say so.
Today: same-sex marriage. Tomorrow: ??
Key words: Fidelity and monogamy.
Thank you.

Richard52 10 years ago