Greens reject antiquated opposition to equal marriage

For immediate release 3 August 2011

Green MSP Patrick Harvie today rejected a motion from SNP MSP John Mason on equal access to marriage as muddled, inconsistent and out of date.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"John Mason's attitudes to equal rights seem stuck in the dark ages, and raising a spurious objection about freedom of speech is nothing but a distraction. Members of Parliament should be recognising the groundswell of support for family law to be about love and commitment, not sexual orientation. They should be representing the views of the people, not delivering misleading attacks on campaigns for equality and defending outdated and intolerant attitudes.

"Many progressive SNP MSPs will be holding their heads in their hands today to read what John Mason has written. Perhaps someone could sit down with him and explain that two men or two women deciding to get married doesn't infringe the rights of heterosexual couples who want to marry, and that there's no secret gay agenda to undermine society, just a campaign to be allowed to play a full part in it.

"The current system of family law goes by the out-dated notion of 'separate but equal', and it fails to recognise people's relationships
on their own terms. Moving to properly equal marriage would also allow religious groups to make their own minds up - groups like the Quakers and the Unitarians back equal marriage and wish to be allowed to conduct marriages for everyone in their congregations irrespective of sexuality. Scotland's ready to take the next step towards full equality, and it's now up to the SNP to deliver it, not get sidetracked by the likes of Mr Mason."

The motion in the name of John Mason MSP reads as follows:

S4M-00586 John Mason (Scottish National Party): That the Parliament notes the current discussion about same-sex marriages and the Scottish Government’s forthcoming public consultation concerning equal marriage; further notes that while some in society approve of same-sex sexual relationships, others do not agree with them; desires that Scotland should be a pluralistic society where all minorities can live together in peace and mutual tolerance; believes that free speech is a fundamental right and that even when there is disagreement with another person’s views, that person has the right to express these views, and considers that no person or organisation should be forced to be involved in or to approve of same-sex marriages.

Patrick Harvie MSP's amendment reads as follows.

Delete from "desires" and insert:

"notes that the balance between these views has changed substantially over recent decades, with the 2006 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey showing 53% in agreement with equal marriage and only 21% in disagreement, and a poll in 2010 showing 58% support with only 19% against; congratulates the Scottish Youth Parliament on the launch of its Love Equally campaign for equal marriage and civil partnership, a campaign it voted to select after consulting with over 42,000 young people across Scotland; believes that the Scottish Government is recognising this shift in public attitudes with its forthcoming consultation on equal marriage; recognises that allowing same sex marriage and mixed sex civil partnerships would in no way undermine the rights and freedoms of whose who do not wish to participate in them; and further believes it would be both right and popular for secular and religious Scots alike to be free to reach their own view on the legal status that is right for their own relationship, instead of being banned by law from having their relationships recognised on equal terms."