Sunday, 24 April 2011

Marriage Equality And The Scottish Parliamentary Elections

So pretty much all the manifestos are out from the various parties fighting for seats in the Scottish Parliament. It's time to see where they all stand on my favourite/least favourite issue: marriage equality.

The Liberal Democrats are very clear:

“Extend legal marriage to gay couples and civil partnerships to heterosexual couples”

And the Greens are equally direct:

“Develop a more tolerant Scotland, introducing equal marriage.

We’ll introduce legislation for equal partnership – opening marriage and civil partnership up to mixed-sex and same-sex couples, and allowing religious celebrants to conduct civil partnership. We’ll begin a dialogue with the UK Government about the need for cross-border recognition of relationships on the basis of equality.”

Labour are little less clear (despite protestations to the contrary in the pledge itself!):

“We also believe that the time is now right to consult on options to provide genuine equality for same-sex couples and their families, by addressing the different status of civil partnership and marriage. We are clear – Scotland shouldn’t be left behind on these issues.”

“We will investigate the best way to implement the ‘Alli Amendment’ in Scotland, to give religious organisations that want to, the freedom to hold civil partnerships in their buildings for the first time.”

Just what we want... more investigations and consultations. *sigh* But at least it's up for "consideration".

The Scottish National Party are also up for "consulting":

“We recognise the range of views on the question of same-sex marriage and registration of civil partnerships. We will therefore begin a process of consultation and discussion on these issues”

Alex Salmond has also spoken about this:

Bernard Ponsonby: John McKay from Leith asks "Mr Salmond, if re-elected, what stance will you take on the question of allowing heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships, and to allow same-sex couples to marry? David Cameron, Nick Clegg and David Miliband – I think he means Ed Miliband – have already stated that they support the idea."

Alex Salmond: Yeah, I mean, we'll put a consultation paper out, that's in the manifesto. I'm supportive, as long as any individual denomination is not forced into the position. That seems to me very important.

Bernard Ponsonby: Sorry, just explain that last bit.

Alex Salmond: Well you wouldn't have, and incidentally I don't think the gay community are advocating, a circumstance where a denomination would be forced to have a marriage in church, and, you know, some people are confused about that position, but that's not what's being advocated. But I'm supportive and it will go out to consultation.

The Scottish Socialist Party have their heart in the right place:

“The strengthening of civil partnership legislation to full equality with marriage, including religious ceremonies"

But I think the idea of "strengthening" civil partnership legislation is different to introducing marriage equality (which is a separately legislated right). I suspect this is simply a lack of understanding of the issues and a wish to be seen to be on the right side of the argument, rather than some weird alternative view.

Even the "old" Liberal Party is getting in on the act.

“Marriage – should be open to all. Gender-free domestic partnership laws.”

And so it came to pass, that marriage equality would be an almost universally accepted manifesto committment in a UK election. The Tories are conspicuous by their absence among the "Big 4" parties and even among parties likely to get representation at Holyrood. Same old Tories? Or did they just miss the memo?

The Equality Network has been doing all the legwork on this, and I urge you to subscribe to their marriage equality news updates.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

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