Equal Marriage to become law
after historic final vote
‘Historic moment’ for Scotland as 105 MSPs say ‘I Do’.
MSPs have given final approval to the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill with an overwhelming majority of MSPs saying ‘I Do’ to equality. The Bill, passed by a majority of 90, will extend the legal form of marriage to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and permit religious denominations to celebrate such marriages should they wish.
Colin Macfarlane, Director, Stonewall Scotland said: ‘This a truly historic moment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Scotland. We’re delighted that MSPs have overwhelmingly demonstrated that they’re committed to building a Scotland fit for the 21st century.’
‘We’re also hugely grateful to the thousands of Stonewall supporters who have played a big part by contacting their MSPs to show their support. We’ll now be lobbying the Scottish Government to ensure that the first marriages take place in Scotland within months of the Act receiving Royal Assent.
During the Bill’s progress through Parliament, Stonewall Scotland and volunteers produced personalised briefings and speaking notes for MSPs. The charity gave evidence to the Equal Opportunities Committee and has attended and lobbied at every stage of the Bill’s progress.
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: FINISHED 16 January 2014
At this stage the Bill returned to the Equal Opportunities Committee for more detailed scrutiny and debate of any amendments to the Bill made at this stage. Stonewall Scotland worked closely with our colleagues in Government to ensure that no wrecking ammendments were made to the Bill at this stage, and that the concerns of LGB&T Scots were heard. The committee voted in favour of equality on every amendment. This included passing some significant amendments to improve equality for transgender people.
Stage Three: the final debate and vote: PASSED!
The Bill returned to the whole Parliament for further consideration and votes on amendments on 4 February 2014. This was followed by the final vote on the Bill: the majority of the Parliament voted in favour of the Bill, so it therefore passed!
Now that the Bill has passed 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.
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 lay in the hands of our politicians, so it was vital that they knew 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 were distributed across Scotland to encourage MSPs to support equal marriage. Order yours by emailing email@example.com.
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.”