Same-sex civil partnerships & marriages (SSM) in Scotland
Part 6: 2014-FEB: Public opinion on SSM.
The Marriage and Civil Partnership
(Scotland) Bill is debated
2014-FEB: Indicators of public opinion for and against marriage equality:
- 2012: The Scottish Government held a consultation on this topic in which they urged individuals to make their position known on same-sex marriage (SSM). They received 77,500 responses which was an all-time record for government consultations. About one-third of these were postcards and forms which had been distributed by religious groups opposed to marriage equality. Personal opinions were relatively evenly split pro and con.
- 2013-NOV: A poll of the Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) showed that 76% of MSPs backed the proposed Marriage and Civil Partnerships Bill, 12% were opposed, and 12% either had no opinion or were unavailable.
- 2013-DEC: A YouGov poll of 1,118 Scottish adults showed that 56% of the public supported the bill. 35% were opposed. 8% were uncertain or refused to express an opinion. The margin of error was ±3 percentage points.
Magnus Gardham, writing for Herald Scotland said:
"Tom French, policy coordinator with the pro-same-sex marriage campaign group Equality Network, said:
'As we approach 2014, it is clear that the large majority of Scots believe it's time LGBT people had full equality, including an equal right to marry the person they love.'
However, a Scotland for Marriage spokesperson said:
'This poll shows a significant number of people do not agree with redefining marriage, and the MSPs at Holyrood are utterly out of step with the voters. The Scottish Parliament must do much more to reflect the will of the people, and it could start by introducing proper civil liberty safeguards for those who believe in traditional marriage'."
A spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Scotland said:
"The YouGov poll makes worrying reading. It clearly shows Scotland's MSPs are completely out of step with public opinion."
Scotland for Marriage, an umbrella group which includes the Catholic Church, the Kirk and Muslim communities, has vowed to continue its fight [in opposition to marriage equality]" 6
The concern of the Scotland for Marriage spokesperson reflects a growing opinion of some faith groups in the U.S. When it looks like SSM is a certainty, they become primarily concerned with protecting the religious freedom and liberty of conservative groups and individuals. But it is not the freedom to hold religious beliefs, to assemble with fellow believers, or to proselytize. It is the new meaning of "religious freedom:" the freedom to discriminate against same-sex couples with impunity.
The comment by the Catholic Church is clearly at variance from the polling data, which shows that public opinion is running about 2 to 1 in favor of marriage equality.
2014-FEB-04: A crowd gathered at Holyrood (the location of the Scottish Parliament) before the vote:
On the day of the vote, many hundreds of supporters of marriage equality were joined by a smaller group of protestors who were opposed to the SSM bill.
- A Unitarian minister, Rev Maud Robinson conducted a mock wedding for Jerry Slater and Larry Lamont from Kircudbright. They were cheered by the crowd. 4
- Tim Hopkins of the Equality Network said:
"I’ve been waiting for this day for many years to see people waiting to get married for the first time and treated like equals under the law. ... I’ve been involved in equality campaigning since 1987 and this is a day I never thought I would see."
- Annie Park, chair of "Loud and Proud" -- a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender choir -- said:
"It’s a historic day and we feel very proud to be here and part of a fight that has gone on for decades. It’s joyous and music is a great way to celebrate this."
- The Rev James Gracie of the Free Church of Scotland Continuing in Edinburgh was protesting the bill. He said:
"Scotland is rejecting God today. God has told us in his Word that marriage is [to be restricted to the union] between a man and a woman."
- Pastor David Richardson of the Vizion Church in East Kilbride said:
"If you redefine marriage as they’re doing today, who’s to say they won’t do it again and you’ll have two women and one man -- or in five years three men and one woman?" 3
2014-FEB-04: During the debate in Parliament:
- John Mason, a SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), was critical of the bill. He tabled a group of unsuccessful amendments. One called for recognition that:
"A belief in marriage as a voluntary union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others for life is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society."
"This has been the prevailing view in Scotland for centuries, and may now be considered a minority view or even old fashioned, but it is an integral tenet of faith for many Christians, Muslims and others as well as the belief of many of no faith position at all." 4
His comment seems to imply that he believes that marriage equality would bring with it an attitude of disrespect for marriages between one woman and one man. What is clearly a minority view in Scotland today, according to polling date, is the exclusion of loving, committed same-sex couples from marriage.
- MSP Mary Scanion said that she "fully respects" fellow MSPs who oppose marriage equality. She had been planning to abstain from the vote. However, she reached a personal "tipping point" when she read some of the emails that her constituents had sent her. Some said that she would be "struck down by the wrath of God" if she voted in favor of the bill. As a result of these emails, she decided to vote for the bill.
- MSP Patrick Harvie said:
"Most people who get married in Scotland these days choose not to involve religion in any way. ... I have yet to hear any clear, coherent, or moral argument why same-sex relationships are inferior."
- MSP Margaret Mitchell believes that there is nothing fair about making people feel apprehensive because they oppose same-sex marriage. She said:
"Equality is about fairness, it is not about making everyone the same.
- MSP Jackie Baillie said:
"This is about a nation that cherishes love. .. We are not redefining marriage, we are extending the eligibility for marriage." 5
This topic continues in Part 7
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Scotland's same-sex marriage bill is passed," BBC News/Scotland, 2014-FEB-04, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
- "How we are organized," The Church of Scotland, 2014, at: http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/
- Scott Macnab, "Same-sex marriage: MSPs pass gay marriage bill," The Scotsman, 2014-FEB-05, at: http://www.scotsman.com/
- "Gay marriage legalised in Scotland following historic vote at Holyrood," Daily Record, 2014-FEB-04, at: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/
- "Live Blog: Scottish Parliament’s Stage 3 Debate on equal marriage," Pink News, 2014-FEB-03, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
- Magnus Gardham, "New poll shows majority of Scots in favour of same-sex marriage," Herald Scotland, 2013-DEC-05, at: http://www.heraldscotland.com/
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2014-FEB-05
Latest update: 2014-DEC-18
Author: B.A. Robinson