We are delighted that the Scottish Government has introduced the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill into the Scottish Parliament. You can view the Bill here. The Bill intends to extend the legal form of marriage to same-sex couples and to remove practices that negatively impact on transgendered individuals in Scotland.
Since 2011, the strength of feeling and volume of responses to the equal marriage consultation shows just how important this issue is to the people of Scotland. It is as important as ever for people to talk directly to their politicians about equal marriage.
All four of the major Scottish political parties have publicly declared their support for equal marriage; however over the last year deeply offensive comments comparing marriage equality with slavery, child abuse, polygamy and bestiality clearly show that we still face significant opposition. We are therefore urging all supporters of equal marriage to get involved in our campaign. Please act now!
The Stage One Debate: PASSED!
A huge thank you from all of Stonewall Scotland to the 98 MSPs who voted YES!
Stage One of the Bill process was a meeting of the whole Parliament to consider the Equal Opportunities Committee Stage One Report. The debate was followed by a vote on the principles of the Bill, which passed with an overwhelming majority of 83. The Bill will now proceed to Stage Two. Stonewall Scotland has provided all MSPs with a briefing on the key issues of the Bill.
Stage Two: detailed scrutiny by the Equal Opportunities Committee
We expect Stage Two of the Bill process to begin towards the end of this year, or early in 2014. At this stage the Bill will return to the Equal Opportunities Committee for more detailed scrutiny and any amendments to the Bill are likely to be made at this stage. Stonewall Scotland will be working closely with our colleagues in Government to ensure that no wrecking ammendments are made to the Bill at this stage, and that the concerns of LGB&T Scots are heard.
Stage Three: the final debate and vote
The Bill then returns to the whole Parliament for further consideration and votes on amendments, which we would expect early in the Spring of February 2014. This will be followed by the final vote on the Bill: if the majority of the Parliament vote in favour then the Bill will be passed, if it does not then the Bill will fall. Remember, your MSPs are there to represent you, so make sure your voice is heard and ask them to vote yes!
Once the Bill passes there is a further four week period when the Bill can be challenged by the Advocate General, the Lord Advocate, the Attorney General or the Secretary of State for Scotland. This is very unlikely. If the Bill is not challenged in the four week holding period it will receive Royal Assent and finally become law.
You can help by making a donation today. Please help us secure that in future the right to marry the person you love is available to everyone. Make a donation online now or become a Friend of Stonewall today from just £5 per month.
Stonewall fought long and hard for the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005. Sadly, as recently as 2010 Lord Tebbit stated: ‘We should be utterly, completely and absolutely clear that a civil partnership is not a marriage, cannot be a marriage, never will be a marriage and should be treated entirely separately from marriage.’
By insisting that marriage and civil partnerships must be kept separate and distinct opponents of equality still perpetuate the offensive notion, even if inadvertently, that relationships between people of the same sex are not as stable, rich or valid as those between mixed-sex couples. It is clear that these views impact negatively on public attitudes towards gay people themselves.
We therefore want to see marriage available to same-sex couples on the same basis as mixed-sex marriage, with no mandate on religious organisations to celebrate it.
The decision about whether to extend marriage to same-sex couples now lies in the hands of our politicians, so it is vital that they know how strong the support for this is across Scotland. Since December 2011 we have been pushing to raise awareness of the campaign, encouraging people to get in touch directly with their MSP and voice their support. A hundred thousand postcards have been distributed across Scotland to encourage MSPs to support equal marriage. Order yours by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stonewall Scotland is also part of a coalition of supportive groups who organised a march on parliament on Valentine’s Day in 2012. We presented the First Minister with a Valentine’s Day Card which read "Roses are white, thistles are blue, we believe in equal marriage and we hope the Scottish Government will too.”