Against same-sex marriage? Then don’t marry someone of the same sex!

The equalisation of marriage is an issue that demands unambiguous support from Scottish Labour, says JUDITH FISHER

 

Recent posts on LabourHame have highlighted the need for Scottish Labour to define itself around what we are for, rather than what we are against. The values identified are a commitment to social justice and to fighting for equality. I think there are few in our party who would disagree with that.

This begs the question then, why is the party in Scotland so quiet, so tentative, on equal marriage?

Equal marriage is not a complicated issue, nor a matter of conscience. It’s one of the most straightforward issues on the current political agenda, or it should be. Currently a minority in society are discriminated against by law; we are a party which believes in equality; therefore we should be firmly committed to the eradication of that discrimination. Yet bring up the subject of marriage equalisation and you’ll find an awful lot of uncomfortable seat shifting and a collective lack of eye contact.

Why?

I’m really not sure.

At a UK level, Ed Miliband is firmly committed to the equalisation of marriage, so this is not a reluctance to bound ahead of the Labour pack.

Is it that the scars from the bloody battle over Clause 2A have never really healed? Perhaps. But ten years on, Scotland is a healthier, more open, less oppressive society because we stuck in and fought for what we knew to be right. We won that one, and Scotland is a better place because of it.

It could be that despite a knowledge that the majority of Scots are in favour of equal marriage, a fear exists of the powerful and vocal minority, including, and let’s say it out loud, the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, who we know are likely to kick up a stink at the prospect of an end to the current discriminatory system. That is understandable, but it’s also tough. If you’re not willing to stand up for social justice, then you shouldn’t be in politics, and certainly not in the Labour Party.

In any case, looking at things from a more cynical point of view, those politicians who are worried about how the views of the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church will influence the voting behaviour of their flock, need only look at the current birth rate for reassurance that the electorate are more than capable of making up their own minds on “social and moral” issues.

To paint this as a struggle between the rights of gay individuals and the rights of those who hold a religious belief is entirely false. For a start, many of those gay individuals are also religious, and many more of those who hold a religious belief are in favour of the equalisation of marriage. However, there are those, some of whom are religious, who are not in favour of same-sex marriage.

My advice to those who are against same-sex marriage would be to avoid entering into one.

There is a marked difference between ensuring that a citizen can exercise their right to practice their religion freely, and enabling that individual to prevent other people from exercising their right to have their relationship recognised as equal under the law.

I would protect the right of John Mason to spout as much homophobic claptrap as he sees fit – with every statement he lets us see the underbelly of the SNP. But I expect better from the Scottish Labour Party. I expect an unequivocal commitment to fight for equality and for social justice. I expect my party to stand up for those in society who are discriminated against and do everything in its power to end that discrimination.

Not pussy footing, not fence sitting, but the courage of our convictions. It’s time to stand up.

Judith Fisher is a member of Glasgow North West CLP and Scottish Convenor of LGBT Labour.

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42 thoughts on “Against same-sex marriage? Then don’t marry someone of the same sex!

  1. This is not about equalisation but about redefining marriage. Why stop with gay marriage: what’s your problem with bigamy, polygamy, incest, paedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality…?

    Once you remove the current meaning of marriage, where, how and why do you draw any further lines? Or would you advocate ‘equality’ for bigamists, the incestuous, pedophiles etc etc?

    1. Oh. My. God.

      It’s no secret that the SNP is having, erm, a little local difficulty with some of our members who hold religious veiws that they may find difficult to reconcile with the equality agenda.

      But at least none of ours has been stupid enough to compare being gay with being a pedophile or being into incest, necrophilia or bestiality.

      Get a bloody grip.

    2. Setting aside your inflammatory nonsense, let’s dismiss once and for all the idea that marriage is an unchanging concept which is endangered by redefinition. The fact is that marriage law has been under constant redefinition for centuries. The age at which people could consent to marriage, the ability for people of mixed race to marry, the recognition of marriages made elsewhere in the world, the rights and responsibilities of married persons – all have been redefined by law in recent decades.

      Marriage has never been unchanging law. You argument is bunk.

    3. “This is not about equality but about redefining marriage”

      Marriage only means “between man and woman” because we gave it that meaning. Once a White and Black person marrying was out of bounds, but now it’s nice and normal.

      And the paedophile thing…really? The reason we wouldn’t advocate “equality” for paedophiles is that they tend to cause harm to the minor AND the minor can’t consent to what is happening. To gay people, however, over the age of 16, can.

  2. It’s good to read a genuinely principaled post on this site. The side-swipe at the SNP wasn’t neccessary, I’m sure that every political party has a few members whose views on the topic are far more extreme than Mr Mason’s rather confused utterances. Nonetheless, it’s good to see some convictions expressed here, rather than the usual waffle about process, snide attacks on opponents, leaden ‘humour’ and the general disconnect with reality that characterise this site.

    No-one with an ounce of integrity could deny that Judith Fisher expresses the only correct and honourable position on this topic, I wish her strength and success.

    1. Re the “SNP underbelly” remark – I note that Patrick Harvie’s amendment has been signed by 14 SNP MSPs but just 2 Labour MSPs.

      We also know that both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister support equal marriage.

      Maybe time for more Labour MSPs to say where they stand?

      1. And, once again, a political problem for the SNP is actually one for Labour…

        Indy, aren’t you one of those who criticised this site for spending too much time attacking the SNP? Yet every time the SNP are (rightly) criticised, it’s apparently all about Labour!

        1. What specifically are you criticising the SNP for?

          I understand the criticism of John Mason’s motion – and the 3 MSPs who signed it – and I share it.

          But what criticism do you make of the SNP as a party?

          After all equal marriage is going to happen, there’s really no doubt about that, and it’s going to happen on the SNP’s watch.

          1. If it’s going to happen under the SNP why wasn’t it in the SNP manifesto? I criticised the lack of conviction in the Labour manifesto on this point. Where is your criticism of the lack of conviction in the SNP manifesto?

        2. I guess we are all missing the point. What value does society put on “Marriage”? That is the point. Do we go down the equalisation route in all areas of society as some would have us? My opinion is we end up with a very nebulous society that has no clear boundaries or structure.

          So here is my understanding of what a traditional marriage is about; Society gives certain rights, privileges and protection to a union between a man and a women. Why? essentially it has to do with the perceived value in the continuation of the community/tribe/society. This continuity is achieved through the production of “babies”.

          Do you really see the need to dilute the marriage institution to include “emotional” unions?

          You need to ask yourself does this headlong rush towards “equalisation” actually improve the value of marriage. If you can vocalise this then I might be very willing to listen. Until then the case has not been made.

          1. How about same sex couples raising children? Or should we just ban people from getting married until children are involved?

  3. A great post – I shared the very same sentiments on the furore, that if you’re not wanting to marry a gay person, then don’t. It’s about exentending religious freedoms, not restricting them.

    Although I don’t quite get the “underbelly of the SNP” comment. Almost every single SNP member I’ve ever spoken to in my entire life would be in favour of equal marriage rights. It’s a complete red herring, and lets down a good piece.

  4. “Why stop with gay marriage: what’s your problem with bigamy, polygamy, incest, paedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality…?” is sophistry of the highest order, but should be answered simply because it’s so monumentally stupid.

    There’s an argument to say that people should be allowed to marry who they want, and polygamy is legal in some jurisdictions. But to manage to equate the loving unification of a relationship, whether gay or straight, with things that are illegal is just ridiculous; the simplest answer as to ‘why stop there’, is because the other things you mention aren’t voluntary and consensual, and nor are they borne of love and deep affection for another. To equate having feelings for someone of the same sex and entering into a consensual relationship with them with abusive and criminal actions betrays your homophobia, I’m afraid. It’s a complete logical fallacy.

  5. It is in the SNP manifesto Duncan. But the details of legislation have to be agreed with Westminster, it’s a mix of devolved and reserved matters.

    1. “Consultation” is in the manifesto. Gay marriage is not. Nothing in devolution would have stopped you from putting a commitment to gay marriage in your manifesto. Nothing would have stopped Labour either. So less of the excuses please.

      1. Ha ha this is quite ironic. My understanding is that we will piggyback on what is being developed down south. So you are really slagging us off for working with Westminster on this instead of going it alone.

        1. No, you don’t get to turn this into a joke. The SNP, like any party, was quite capable of stating in its manifesto that it would bring forward legislation to remove the ban on gay marriage, or words to that effect, and it chose not to do so.

          Indeed I know for a fact that the wording of this section of the SNP manifesto was so hotly contested in your drafting team that there were threats of resignations when someone tried to water down the commitment even more. People in the gay rights movement ally across party boundaries.

          So for once would you stop blaming someone else or diverting, and own the problem. The SNP can choose its policy on gay marriage. It didn’t choose to support it unequivocally.

          1. Oh nonsense, that is just tittle tattle. Unlike you as an SNP member I have access to internal SNP briefings. You maybe picked that up from the fake SNP HQ twitter account. It was fake you know.

            There are two issues here as I understand it – one is to change the law so that same sex couples can get married and one is to change the law so that mixed sex couples can register a civil partnership.

            In both of those areas we can’t go it alone. Fact.

  6. I’m very pleased to say I know Judith a little and absolutely agree that Scottish Labour supporting equality in marriage is a no brainer.

    To be clear I’m not going to bother with the stupidity of comparing gay couples with necrophiles. That old argument against equal marriage which includes the terms “Eve” and “Steve” (I’m sure you all know the one) isn’t really an argument at all, its more like the individual putting it forward simply saying ‘I disapprove’ which is different from a reasoned argument. More like religious dogma.

    I actually imagined this issue wouldn’t be contraversial, I can only imagine Labour MSPs voting for equal marriage. The SNP’s disagreement is very embarrassing for them on this one and something most probably didn’t see coming. Self inflicted wounds like this are out of character for them. There is obviously a split, what remains to be seen is whether its just a handful of MSPs who are out of touch with the mainstream of the SNP or whether its something more deep seated. Time will tell. That said I would expect the last MSP for Shettleston received more ministerial Christmas cards than the current representative can expect to!

    1. Why is it “the SNP’s disagreement”. From what I’ve read in the papers and on BBC News: one MSP made some quite inflammatory and awfully worded remarks in a motion, and in the period that’s followed his motion has been criticised by at least 1 MEP, 2 MPs and a dozen MSPs from the SNP; and rather then anyone offering him support, most of the MSPs who supported his motion have withdrawn their support and are now supporting Harvie’s much better amendment. Its hardly looks like a divisive issue just because of this, and I’d think its perhaps wishful thinking from the Labour party that this will be the beginning of the SNP downfall.

      I expect there’ll be a few abstentions from the big three parties (I can think of definitely one, possibly two, Labour MSPs who I’d put money on them abstaining), but I can’t see anyone in the parliament of any party voting against (not even the Torries since Ruth Davidson’s election), but that’s just my personal prediction…

  7. “With every statement he lets us see the underbelly of the SNP” – a sweeping generalisation which is nothing more than the usual nat bashing we have come to expect on LabourHame. A number of SNP MSPs, at least one MP and an MEP (who happens to be gay himself and is widely regarded as a possible future party leader) have condemned John Mason’s motion in public, Labour just ignore that insist on saying the party as a whole is homophobic. But for all Labour acting morally superior at the moment, is anyone able to cast their mind back a few years to Michael McMahon’s actions when Wendy Alexander was working to scrap Section 28, or has that just been conveniently forgotten?

    1. Nowhere in this article or anywhere else have I seen the accusation that the SNP as a whole is homophobic.

      What you and others confirm with every comment, however, is that the SNP is riven with the biggest persecution complex in Scottish politics since Jim Sillars.

      1. “Nowhere in this article or anywhere else have I seen the accusation that the SNP as a whole is homophobic”

        You don’t think that by saying that John Mason’s motion “lets us see the underbelly of the SNP” was in any way trying to accuse the SNP of being a homophobic? If not, what could be a possible accusation of that statement that couldn’t be equally thrown at Labour (eg. an MP or MSP has made statements expressing his/her hostility to gay marriage)?

        I will and do criticize anyone who tries to make terrible statements against gay marriage, whether SNP or Labour, but I think if we look at the entire membership of both parties, neither Labour or the SNP can claim the absolute moral high ground on this, so its wrong if either party attempts to.

  8. Excellent article, Judith. I agree with you. There is literally no reason why two consenting adults who are not blood relations should not be allowed to marry, either legally or morally.

    After all, we’re hardly in any danger of our tribe dying out if every available person is not breeding the next generation, are we? Haven’t been for a very long time, in fact.

    If various religions object to carrying out marriages between gays, fine. They shouldn’t have to. But they shouldn’t be able to prevent gays from marrying elsewhere, either.

    As for the political hesitancy by pretty much everyone, I suspect it comes down to votes – the number potentially gained vrs the number potentially lost. Not a principled position, by any means – and I’m not sure it’s an accurate one, either.

    I suspect the number of people who object badly enough to gays marrying that they consider it more important than things like the economy or law & order must be very tiny indeed. After all, when Tony Blair brought in civil partnerships (Much to his credit) the amount of rioting and the millions rising in protest were only noticeable by their complete absence.

    The time is right for legalising gay marriage, I think. Not because of any agenda or political motive, but simply because it is FAIR that Britain does so.

  9. Indy, civil law including all of marriage law is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. A Sewell motion was used for CP legislation for political convenience, not out of necessity. The Scottish Parliament is entirely competent to remove the ban on gay marriage in Scotland without recourse to Westminster.

    1. OK let’s say the Scottish Parliament did remove the ban on gay marriage in Scotland without recourse to Westminster – ithat would leave same sex couples who got married (but had not also become civil partners) in what position concerning their legal rights vis as vis tax, pensions, benefits, and immigration?

      Go back and read the document that was published at the time the Sewel motion on civil partnerships was passed.

      “The Scottish Parliament could of course, legislate for the devolved policy aspects. However, if the Scottish civil partnership scheme materially differed from that developed by the UK Government, for example, by the inclusion of opposite sex couples, then this could create significant cross border difficulties. For example, would the UK government recognise a Scottish Civil Partnership for reserved purposes or would a couple also need to register in England and Wales? It could cause confusion in the minds of the public, including those most affected by the provisions, if the Scottish and UK Parliaments were to be legislating for the reserved and devolved dimensions of civil partnerships at different times.”

      Same arguments apply. You are just being pernickity for the sake of it.

          1. Okey dokey. I’ll make this brief: Indy, you have just given us a brilliantly and concisely argued case for maintaining the Union.

            if the Scottish civil partnership scheme materially differed from that developed by the UK Government, for example, by the inclusion of opposite sex couples, then this could create significant cross border difficulties.

            Quite. In other words, it’s better to legislate on some issues on a UK-wide basis, rather than on a purely Scottish or English basis.

            Couldn’t agree more. Well done.

            The fact is the Scottish Government could legislate in this area if it so wished, but it chooses not to because doing so would create all sorts of problems with and for our neighbours. The logic of independence says we must legislate for what we think is right here in Scotland. But, as Indy implies, that’s a very old fashioned and anachronistic notion these days.

  10. I think the real problem is that our current system integrates the civil and the religious. Much of the rest of Northern Europe manage to separate the 2, even where there is a “Established” Church, you have a civil ceremony in the morning and a church ceremony in the afternoon if that is what you believe in.

    Christian Church denominations and other faith groups should be free to refuse to marry gay couples, divorced couples or whatever other groups the believe shouldn’t be married and civil society have every right to grant those folk the rights of a “married” couple if they wish.

    If we separated the two we’d rid ourselves of these problem areas where private belief and civil obligations have difficulty being reconciled. However it does brings with it problems over the Established Church, to which we owe so much of the foundations of modern Scotland and our civil society.

    The problems with different jurisdictions within the UK is a valid one. When I got divorced 20ish years ago we had great initial difficulty as we’d been married in Scotland and my wife was in Germany and I was in the Falkland Islands, both of us were civil servants within the British Forces community, but nobody could decide who had the jurisdiction.

  11. I think we should sign the gay marriage petitions…

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/2797

    Legalise Gay Marriage

    Responsible department: Ministry of Justice

    We the people petition the Government to amend the current marriage laws so that marriage is legal irrepesctive of the gender of the couple. At the moment a Gay couple may enter into a civil partnership which grants them all the same rights as a married Heterosexual couple but they cannot be married, this is pointless discrimination rooted in age old bigotry

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/1826

    e-petition

    Equal Marriage Rights regardless of gender or sexual orientation Responsible department: Ministry of Justice

    We petition the government to pass legislation that establishes equal rights to marriage, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. In a society where the law has already recognised the integrity and rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people to have relationships and love, protected from discrimination: we ask for legislation that enshrines equal marriage rights for all. We believe the underlying law of the land should detach equal rights to marriage, from religious objections and practices, since the state is not a religion. We call on the government to remove the clear discrimination and unfairness which presently exists. New marriage legislation, based on justice, equality, and non-discrimination will in no way undermine marriage. The threat to heterosexual marriage comes from heterosexual relationships themselves. We, the undersigned, petition the government to establish equal rights to get married, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

  12. I notice that nobody has addressed my non-PC comments very intelligently. HTe nearest perhaps is Chris who wrote:

    “There’s an argument to say that people should be allowed to marry who they want, and polygamy is legal in some jurisdictions. But to manage to equate the loving unification of a relationship, whether gay or straight, with things that are illegal is just ridiculous; the simplest answer as to ‘why stop there’, is because the other things you mention aren’t voluntary and consensual, and nor are they borne of love and deep affection for another. To equate having feelings for someone of the same sex and entering into a consensual relationship with them with abusive and criminal actions betrays your homophobia, I’m afraid. It’s a complete logical fallacy.”

    However, to say that something is illegal is clearly irrelevant to the argument. Homosexuality was illegal and is now legal. The lines were re-drawn. I am asking where lines should be drawn and by whom and how. Consent is another interesting issue: we currently have an (unenforced) age of consent that presumes at a certain age consent can validly be given. But again that has varied and could be changed again. If a paedophile can make a child consent to – or even desire – what he wants, does that make it OK? If not, why not? The question remains, who decides and on what basis? Nobody has addressed those issues. To call something a logical fallacy is not to prove that it is one. So perhaps my slippery slope argument is not as easy to dismiss as it appears.

    1. I’ll accept that challenge, if I may.

      There are a number of grounds to question your ideas, not the least of which is the issue of mutually consenting adults who are fully aware of what they are consenting to. Most of your examples are incapable of informed consent.

      Allowing gay couples to marry does not in any way jeopardise the idea of informed consent.

      Next, let’s look at the the actual purpose of marriage itself: to provide a legal framework for a relationship that settles issues of inheritance, liability, etc. Is that purpose harmed or in any way damaged by allowing gays to marry? Of course not.

      Finally, let’s look at why societies have generally frowned on gays in the first place: any tribe with a small number of people and in danger of extinction (And they all start out that way!) need everybody to be a part of the breeding pool. It’s as simple as that. Genetic diversity is needed and the more followers are created at speed, the greater chance the tribe has to survive. Is that thinking in any way required today, when their are billions of people on the planet? Not even remotely!

      So basically we have a completely obsolete prejudice few understand any more obstructing the implementation of a desirable legal framework that would allow fully informed and consenting adults to do something there is no Earthly reason they should not be allowed to do.

      You have no case, Ben. It’s as simple as that.

  13. Lol I pointed out the irony of the SNP choosing to piggyback on Westminster legislation to Duncan earlier- and was rebuked for my frivolousness.

    But the fact is that the Scottish Government could NOT legislate in reserved areas which impact on the treatment of couples in terms of the tax system, pensions and so on – and especially immigration. The Home Office refuses even to reply to letters written by members of the Scottish Parliament after all – so what are the chances of them recognising, for example, a same sex marriage entered into by an asylum seeker if that legislation only applied in Scotland? Zilch, I would suggest.

    Far from being a brilliant example of how the Union works it is simply another example the constraints which are inherent in the current constitutional set-up.

    Also, interestingly,this debate has perhaps highlighted some of the inherent contradictions in your own party. Because Duncan appeared to be arguing that the Scottish Government ought to go right ahead and legislate without reference to Westminster which suggests that he at least believes that the Scottish Parliament should have control over the reserved, as well as the devolved, aspects of equalising marriage laws. Whereas I suspect your position on that would be rather different.

    1. Admin:
      “Okey dokey. I’ll make this brief: Indy, you have just given us a brilliantly and concisely argued case for maintaining the Union.

      Quite. In other words, it’s better to legislate on some issues on a UK-wide basis, rather than on a purely Scottish or English basis.”

      That makes no sense. Whilst I accept your argument if you say “WHILST we’re a part of the UK”, rather then being “a brilliantly and concisely argued case for maintaining the Union”, it shows how this legislation would be much simpler to enact in the Scottish Parliament if we were independent then under the current devolution settlement.

      What you’re saying is whilst Scotland is a part of the UK we are constrained in the legislation we can pass because it would be problematic for us to pass legislation that says gay marriage is only recognized in a part of the UK (Scotland) – therefore we must keep this problematic arrangement. Rather then being a good argument for the Union, if Scotland was independent we could legislate gay marriage across the whole country (Scotland) rather then just a part of it and wouldn’t need to worry about them not being recognized in other parts of our country. If a gay couple married in Scotland and then travelled abroad to London, they would then recognise it as a Civil Partnership, as currently happens with couples married in Spain, Netherlands, Canada etc.

      Also, Indy’s right. Whilst we can legislate for an arrangement called ‘marriage’ for same sex couples in the Scottish Parliament, for this arrangement to have the same tax, inheritance, immigration rights as opposite sex marriages, it would need to be voted on by Westminster as these areas are non-devolved. I’d be interested to see if they would try and block it in the Lords…

  14. Elliot

    Thanks for the courtesy of a considered response.

    A few issues:

    Do I take it then that you would have no problems with the legalisation of polygamy, as it would meet the (somewhat arbitrary) criteria you have suggested?

    If so, my slippery slope has at least one degree further to go.

    Are children unable to give informed consent? There are many who would take issue with that. So that would be a second step: granting paedophiles rights (as long as the children consent of course – and with modern sex ed, they would naturally be fully informed.) For who is to say the paedophile’s or the child’s right to mutual love is wrong, and on what grounds (other than old-fashioned prejudice)? You offer no insight into that.

    Finally, I would suggest your idea of the purpose of marriage misses a vital (literally) component: the procreation of children, and providing a secure environment for their upbringing. That has always been at the heart of society’s understanding of marriage and it is the loss of that which actually concerns me the most. Changes to attitudes to sexual behaviour, fidelity and divorce have already caused huge damage to that, and I fear any further undermining of marriage would only make it worse.

    1. Ben,

      Polygamy does not meet my criteria because it results in a legal tangle, not legal clarity. It is, moreover, historically a desperation measure caused by a huge male/female imbalance. Thus, there is no case for legalisation in Britain. Should females ever outnumber males by a factor of 5 to 1 or more, however, this point may need looking at again. But once again, we are talking extreme measures for tribal survival, not a desirable state of being.

      As for informed consent, there is a huge difference between having the information and understanding what it means – or being emotionally equipped to deal with the consequences. The ability to parrot by rote is not proof on ‘informed’ anything. This is why the age of consent exists.

      The procreation of children is one thing that MIGHT happen within marriage and often does. But marriage is in no way contingent upon such procreation. Many couples have had loving marriages throughout history with no children being born, yet they are in every legal and ethical way still married. Moreover, vast numbers of children have been born outside of marriage throughout history, too. So it’s pretty clear that marriage is not a requirement for children, nor children a requirement for marriage.

      The best environment for raising them, of course. Study after study shows that. But still, irrelevant to this debate.

      As for ‘undermining’, well, I would actually argue that right now allowing gays to marry would STRENGTHEN the institution of marriage enormously. No-one could remotely argue that marriage was an unfair system, the legal tangles caused by inheritance between gay couples would be ended at a stroke… But you get the point. It’s all positives. It’ll stop future governments trying to stick their annoying noses into people’s relationships in the future, too, which is always a plus.

      If gays are allowed to marry, the law becomes incredible simple: one is married or one is not, and the system is absolutely fair to everyone, because everyone has the same choice.

  15. A great post Judith, equality and justice. Labour can do great and transformational things. Well said, leadership is tough sometimes but well worth it.

  16. I’ve commented on Aidan’s piece above, but just seen this thought I’d pop something in here too. Why refer; ‘out loud’ to the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church? What’s that got to do with John Mason (later referred)? There’s a trend in Scotland to over deploy the term ‘bigotry’ and it almost invariably ends up directed at the Roman Catholic Church. Moreover, it tends to obscure the idea that in a democracy you have to persuade people where you can, rather than tell them their views are actually already illegitimate. I’m not at all convinced about the stats referred to re: Scotland and gay marriage – my instinct is that Scotland’s a lot more conservative than that, so there’s a great deal of persuading, rather than shouting, left to do. And, finally, it’s simply daft to see this as specifically part of an SNP underbelly. Our attacks on the SNP need to have much more authenticity and validity than that if they’re to have any meaning and effect.

  17. Eric, I’ve so far refrained from commenting other than the original article, but you’ve tempted me. My reference to the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church is in the context of what is preventing more Labour MSPs from vocally supporting equal marriage and I do think that it’s partly a fear of the Cardinal’s reaction and how that will impact on their vote. That has nothing to do with John Mason. The main thrust of my article is a criticism of Labour, not the SNP, for not being willing to be proactive on this, but comments from John Mason and particularly now Bill Walker do show the SNP underbelly. Do we have our own? Sadly, I think we do, it just hasn’t been as vocal. Finally, why are you so quick to dismiss the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey? This isn’t a blip. The Survey has shown support for equal marriage steadily rising over the past decade or so, it’s a longterm trend in a Survey carried out by a reputable agency using solid methodolgy. My belief is that Scotland has moved on an awful lot more than many politicians choose to think. I agree with Aidan though, this is about doing the right thing, aren’t politicians supposed to lead?

  18. I happen to be a gay Labour supporter but I totally disagree with your views! I have too much respect for traditionalist people of faith to try and change the definition of marriage and I am not keen on same sex marriageand am happy with civil partnerships. Also I am not self loathing, I am proud to be gay but believe in freedom of speech and freedom of expression( within reason!) and freedom of conscience. Additionally I think it was a disgrace that you closed down faith based adoption agencies and if I was an MP I would have voted against closing them and against unrestricted IVF for women as it is not a human right. The tone of your article is rather patronising and whilst no SNP fan at least their MP’s didn’t have to beg and plead for a free vote during the HFE bill.In my opinion the rights of faith groups particulary the Catholic church are more important than our right not to be offended!

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