Greens urge Parliament to back marriage equality

For immediate release 19 October 2010

Green MSP Patrick Harvie today predicted the Scottish Parliament would back marriage equality during Holyrood's next session. He has this week lodged a motion welcoming the moves by other parties to support full equality, including allowing heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships instead of marriage if they wish.

A poll conducted for the Greens earlier this year showed that equality is now overwhelmingly popular - 58% of Scots supported the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry if they wish to, with just 19% opposed.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"Civil partnership was an important step forward, giving same-sex couples much the same legal rights and responsibilities as everyone else. But there have always been some people who want to portray those couples as second-class citizens and their relationships as less meaningful than marriage, or worthy of less respect from society.

"Attitudes are changing rapidly, and with each step towards equality more people feel able to be open about who they love. Nowadays almost everyone knows some gay or lesbian friends and family members, and by a margin of three to one Scots support couples who want to commit to each other in a gay marriage.

"Full legal equality for same-sex couples who want to marry and for mixed-sex couples who want civil partnership instead would be much more in keeping with this increasingly inclusive Scottish public opinion. I believe there are enough supporters in all political parties for it to be changed during the next Parliament. Soon we will look back on the current arrangement with the same disbelief young Americans have when they find out there used to be a ban on inter-racial marriage."

The motion in Patrick Harvie's name reads as follows:
S3M-07222 Equal Marriage, Equal Partnership— That the Parliament welcomes the commitment by Ed Miliband to equalise marriage law for same-sex couples, the recent decision by the Liberal Democrat party conference to back proposals to allow same-sex marriage and mixed-sex civil partnership, the longstanding support of green parties in the UK for this position and the support that has been expressed by a number of SNP and Conservative politicians; believes that this step is necessary not only to ensure equal legal rights irrespective of sexual orientation but also to convey the equal dignity of relationships and the equal respect with which the state recognises relationships; regrets that civil partnership is portrayed by some in society as a lesser level of commitment or recognition, and calls on the Scottish Government to investigate the practical steps necessary to allow legislation in the next session of the Scottish Parliament to create equal marriage and partnership in Scotland.

Angus Reid polled 1001 Scottish adults between 14th April and 16th April 2010. The question asked was as follows:
How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Gay or lesbian couples should have the right to marry one another if they want to.
Figures are this poll (2006 Social Attitudes/2002 Social Attitudes)

29% (17%/10%)    Agree strongly
29% (36%/31%)    Agree
23% (21%/24%)    Neither agree nor disagree
8% (11%/17%)      Disagree
11% (10%/12%)    Disagree strongly