Marriage Equality For Scotland
Scotland looks set to become the first nation of the United Kingdom to move towards full marriage equality and allow same sex marriages it was announced on Wednesday.
Ministers from the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) confirmed they are going to bring forward a bill on the issue, indicating it could be passed as early as next year with the first ceremonies taking place at the start of 2015.
This momentous news was welcomed by political leaders, equality organizations, human rights activists and commentators all over the UK. Many have congratulated the SNP for finally moving forward with the fight for equality after much deliberation.
The announcement came this week, fresh in the wake of a government consultation which received an astonishing 77,508 responses, a record for any Scottish government consultation on any subject. Despite a church organized negative postcard campaign opposing any attempt to equalize the law and equality.
The SNP confirmed that whilst they were pushing ahead with these plans they would also include in the legislation that no religious organization or celebrant would be forced to conduct or host same-sex weddings. Furthermore they said they would work with UK ministers to amend equality laws to protect celebrants from legal or disciplinary action if they did refuse to take part or speak out against same-sex ceremonies.
Scotland's deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, told the media "We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships - we believe that this is the right thing to do.” Adding, "The Scottish government has already made clear that no religious body will be compelled to conduct same-sex marriages and we reiterate that today. Such protection is provided for under existing equality laws. However, our view is that to give certainty on protection for individual celebrants taking a different view from a religious body that does agree to conduct same-sex marriages, an amendment will be required to the UK Equality Act."
The main opposition to equality comes from the various religious organisations in Scotland who have been less the positive about the news.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland
said, "The Scottish government is embarking on a dangerous social experiment on a massive scale. However, the church looks much further than the short-term electoral time-scales of politicians. We strongly suspect that time will show the church to have been completely correct in explaining that same-sex sexual relationships are detrimental to any love expressed within profound friendships. However, in the short term and long term the church does not see same-sex marriage as an appropriate and helpful response to same-sex attraction."
The Free Church of Scotland continued
with the homophobic feeling saying, "This is a truly sad day for Scotland, and we urge the Scottish government to reconsider their plans."
From the Christian Church of Scotland, the Reverend Alan Hamilton remarked, "We are concerned the Scottish government is rushing ahead on something that affects all the people of Scotland without adequate debate and reflection."
Seldom seen in politics, there is support for the equal marriage proposals from all main political parties. "This is a small but important step for equality in Scotland. I'm sure there will be bumps on the road but Nicola Sturgeon can count on my support to deliver equality in marriage." Said Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party.
"After weeks of confusion, the SNP finally seems to be moving towards a position that was set out in its manifesto." Read a statement from the Scottish Conservatives. Whilst Johann Lamont, the Scottish Labour leader said, "While this has not been an easy debate, we must now build on the emerging consensus to deliver real marriage equality for Scotland."