Today’s Scotland on Sunday suggests that the SNP Government will bring forward legislation to allow civil marriage for same sex couples. However, religious ceremonies, even for those organisations who want to conduct them, will not be permitted.
I really hope this isn’t true. In this day and age, for the state to bow to the leadership of the churches is pretty sad, particularly when polls consistently show a significant majority of Scots in favour of equal marriage. Even the most ardent supporters of equal marriage, and I’d count myself as one of them, would not compel any church to conduct any marriage. It annoys me, though, that some churches feel they have the right to deny that right to others.
Willie Rennie has been consistently been supportive on this issue. I’ve been really proud of how he’s happily and comfortably spoken out, more so than any other politician, I think.
He has today urged the SNP to hold firm and legislate for true marriage equality.
“Because of the heat they are getting, I can understand why the SNP Government may wish to compromise on this issue but I urge them not to compromise on equality.
“As there is no question of churches being compelled to conduct same sex marriages this change would only serve to restrict those churches who do wish to conduct such ceremonies.
“Equal marriage is not a threat to the freedom of churches so I urge the Scottish Government to confidently advocate the merits of the change they propose.”
I really think it would be wrong for the Government to pander to the Scotland for Marriage campaign, especially after Gordon Wilson’s outrageous claims that equal marriage would make independence less likely and might put off heterosexual couples from getting married because they might feel the institution was tainted if gay people were allowed to get married.
I hope that Nicola Sturgeon, who is known herself to be in favour of equal marriage, is able to convince her colleagues to hold firm. I fear, however, that the SNP’s illiberal streak will prevail.
If, however, that does happen, I suspect it’s only a matter of time before attitudes change. The awesome Liberal Youth Scotland have this week presented over 400 letters supporting equal marriage to MSPs and they’ll keep their “Separate isn’t Equal” campaign going. I was quite amused to see our leader described as Will Rennie in the Pink News report. Will is far too cool a name for him. Willie suits him much better.