Tag Archive | Scottish Parliament

Scottish Labour Thinks Cishet Animals Are More Equal than Others

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Elaine Smith MSP

Whilst bigotry exists in every country, Scotland in recent years, while by no means immune from hate, has been a shining example of LGBTQ tolerance and acceptance.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) administration in the devolved Scottish Parliament introduced the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act in 2014, the most comprehensive overhaul ever of marriage legislation in Scotland, which ensured equal marriage for people of all sexual orientations and genders.   When the Bill was going through parliament, it had cross-party support, and when it went to the public consultation period (mandatory as the people are sovereign in Scotland), the response from the Scottish people was overwhelmingly in favour.

Likewise, the SNP administration is currently pressing ahead with transgender legislation reform to bring it into line with international best practice.

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, is openly lesbian. The co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie, is openly gay. Scottish Labour’s former leader, Kezia Dugdale, is openly gay.   SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, although cishet herself, won Politician of the Year in the 2016 Scottish LGBTI Awards.

So, amidst all of this pride Scotland can rightfully take in LGBTQ issues, who did new Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard appoint as his Spokeswoman for the Eradication of Poverty and Inequality?   Someone who takes a firm stance against LGBTQ equality, while putting her god and religious faith above the sovereign wishes of the Scottish people, that’s who.

Enter Elaine Smith, list Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Central Scotland, who was one of the most vocal opponents to equal marriage in the Scottish Parliament, likening it to polygamy and claiming it would lead to unforeseen circumstances.

Speaking in 2013, Ms Smith stated “Whilst the government has said that it has no intention of allowing polygamous marriages as part of this legislation which changes the essential nature of marriage, it has not explained in any detail and with research analysis its reasons for taking that position.   Further, if the government is sincere about its support for ‘equal love’ then it appears to have a contradiction on its hands.”

In her opposition to the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill, Ms Smith also wrote “It is not, in my view, the Government’s job to interfere in the operation of churches, which is what this proposal seems to do.

“The potential consequences, of course, would not stop with the ceremony.

“The consequences of the legislation will be far reaching and would not just affect religious celebrants but could impact on people right across the country, particularly those with personal religious views. Teachers, local council workers and parents could all fall into categories potentially affected.”

Read that again carefully, dears; “It is not, in my view, the Government’s job to interfere in the operation of churches, which is what this proposal seems to do.”

And…

“The consequences of the legislation will be far reaching and would not just affect religious celebrants”

Ms Smith, who also wrote, “if Christianity is no longer the framework for society consideration must then be given to what is replacing it”, seems to think that the Christian faith somehow has the monopoly on marriage.   If that is the case, will she be the first to tell those in Scotland married under other faiths, and those atheists married under no religious faith, that they are not married in her eyes, or those of her faith?  Perhaps Ms Smith would do well to reflect that in the Bible there is no definition of marriage as one man / one woman (there is in fact no definition of marriage in the Bible), and that the most common form of marriage found in the Bible is, ermm, polygamy.

And the part on celebrants is not lost on me either. The Marriage and Civil Partnership Act made provisions for the first time for non-religious celebrants being able to carry out marriages, without first seeking permission to do so.

This is a woman fit to speak on equality? Who looks to her religious faith first, and says “My bat, my ball”? I don’t think so somehow.

When confronted with Ms Smith’s past record, new Scottish Labour leader appeared to have been caught off-guard and waffled his way through an interview on BBC Good Morning Scotland (aired 9 January 2018). Leonard responded, “Well, Elaine’s position on that (equal marriage) is not one I support.” Pressed on the matter, the Scottish Labour leader responded, “it’s not in keeping… well… look, we’ve got a rising level of child poverty in this country, more people in work are living in poverty. We’ve got a huge rise in inequality, the top 1% richest people in Scotland earn more than the bottom 50% put together.”

Asked again on Elaine Smith’s stance on equal marriage, Mr Leonard waffled on, “There are huge challenges that we face, and I think Elaine Smith is well equipped to lead the Labour Party’s campaigns against that growing inequality and against that rise in poverty. That’s why I appointed her to that position.”

Utterly pathetic, and a clear indication that the leader of the Labour Party (North British Branch) should have done some serious homework before making the most unsuitable appointment possible.

But it does not stop there. Ms Smith is also opposed to LGBT-inclusive sex education in Scotland’s schools, and thinks that teachers should have the right to opt out of teaching it.

She stated, “On the specific issue of teachers, there are particular concerns. The Government’s proposal indicates that they would not expect a local authority to take ‘immediate’ disciplinary action against a teacher who expresses concerns about the use of certain educational materials.

“There is also the issue of parents and what control they have over the information their child receives. I have already been approached by parents with children at nondenominational schools who are concerned about sex education in primary schools.

“They are aware that they can seek to withdraw their child but are concerned that in doing so their child will then suffer from bullying and be set apart from their peers.

The government has indicated that it does not consider it appropriate to say that issues relating to same sex marriage, same sex relationships and homosexuality should never be raised in primary schools and neither can parents opt their children out of such discussions.”

Well, that latter part is utter rubbish. Parents fully have the right to withdraw their children from sex education if they so wish. And where is this bullying Ms Smith speaks of? Can she give any data or figures, which back up the claim that children opted out of sex education, are bullied by their peers?

Or could it be that given the widescale acceptance and respect LGBTQ Scots appear to be enjoying, the only people who are attempting any bullying are ignorant homophobic and transphobic bigots, who attempt to hide behind their faith?   Does that sound in any way familiar, Ms Smith?

For someone who is supposedly an ‘equality’ spokesperson, Ms Smith’s commitment to equality is derisory. Here is one more snippet from her opposition to equal marriage:

“I do not regard same sex marriage as a simple matter of equality particularly as we already have civil partnerships for same sex couples. Just because something is not identical does not make it unequal.”

Different – but not unequal? Now, where have we heard that before in a supposedly ‘leftist’ context?

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Scottish Government proposes Non-Binary legal recognition

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Nicola Sturgeon MSP – First Minister

And more good news for Trans Scots.

The current Scottish National Party (SNP) administration in the devolved Scottish Government has pledged to overhaul LGBT+ legislation, which will effectively give legal recognition to those in Scotland of non-binary gender.

Speaking before a hustings meeting co-hosted by LGBT+ rights groups including Stonewall Scotland and the Equality Network, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, a former reciptient of the Scottish LGBTI Politician of the Year Award, laid out a five point plan intended to reform Scotland’s gender recognition laws “bring it into line with international best practice”, should the SNP be returned to power in the Scottish Parliamentary elections on 5 May 2016.

Proposals include to allow non-binary and transgender people to revise their birth certificates to reflect their gender, without the current need to seek approval from a tribunal of lawyers and doctors. Revised birth certificates will then be valid for passport applications, as well as for use in other legal documentation. If implemented, the changes would make Scotland the third country in the European Union, after Malta and Denmark, to recognise non-binary gender. The status is also recognised worldwide in Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Argentina.

The changes come after a recent survey carried out by the Scots LGBT+ campaign group Equality Network, found that 300 participants described their gender as “non-binary”, although it is believed the true figure could be as much as ten times higher.

The commitment was welcomed by Nathan Gale of Non-Binary Scotland, who said: “By making a commitment to reform gender recognition law the Scottish Government is ensuring that all trans people, no-matter what their gender identity, will be able to be themselves, in all aspects of their lives.

“Trans people who don’t identify as men or women have just as much right to have the gender they identify as recognised and respected as everyone else.

“I hope that the next Scottish Government will truly aspire to international best practice and provide for a third gender, alongside male and female, to be recognised in Scottish law.”

The five points of Ms Sturgeon’s commitment are as follows;

“Expect all new, guidance and promoted teachers to undertake training on equality so they are confident in tackling prejudice-based bullying.

“Promote children’s health and well-being right throughout early years, primary and secondary education, so that all children and young people learn tolerance, respect, human rights, equality, good citizenship, to address and prevent prejudice and about healthy relationships through refreshed, age-appropriate strategies and resources.

“Work towards every professional working with children being trained on equality, addressing prejudice-based bullying, attachment, child development and child protection.

“Review and reform gender recognition law for all Trans people to ensure it is line with international best practice.

“Aim for all police officers to receive appropriate training on the investigation of hate crime.”

In more detail, the proposals include the right of transgender young people of 16-17 year old to change the gender on their birth certificates, with parental support.

The proposals also have the potential to reduce the incidence of transgender people in Scotland convicted of crimes to be sent to prisons according to their birth gender. Regular readers will know this is a particular bugbear of mine, so I fully applaud the SNP administration in the Scottish Government for this move.

Speaking on the proposals, Ms Sturgeon stated “I’m proud that Scotland has made significant progress on LGBTI equality in recent years; however, the very fact that we are still having debates like this at election time just underlines that there is still much that we need to do.

“In particular I want to see a renewed focus on areas such as education – both for young people themselves, and those responsible for their emotional and educational wellbeing.

“Tolerance, respect, inclusion – these are attitudes and principles we want to encourage and foster in modern, fairer Scotland.

“Enabling young people to make informed choices about their gender and sexual identity is about supporting them to be themselves so that they might fulfil their potential.

“I am hopeful that in the next Scottish Parliament, we can build as much consensus on LGBTI issues as we did in this session – and take another leap forward for equality.”

Not everybody is happy however, and the loudest of the dissenting voices comes from the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, Revered David A Robertson, who stated in an article in the Daily Mail, “Not content with the destruction of the traditional Christian ideas of sexuality and marriage, it appears the SNP are now seeking to destroy the traditional idea of gender. We do not believe that this will lead to the Brave New World envisaged by the proponents of the multi gender doctrine. It is destructive of humanity and will cause chaos in our society. The SNP seem to be working on the unproven and somewhat bizarre notion that children get to choose their own gender and sexuality.”

Rev Robertson is no stranger to such bigotry, and worse still, it is not as if he is ignorant of the facts. He is an educated man, a theology graduate, and has been well-informed, many times, of the facts about sexuality, marriage, and gender. He is correct when he speaks of Christian “ideas” of those subjects, but does not accept that they are merely that – ideas, not facts. He does not recognise that Christianity does not have a monopoly upon marriage, or that marriage originally was a social contract with no religious overtones, but he is more than well aware that nowhere in the Bible is marriage defined as one man / one woman, but rather that polygamous marriage (which is one thing Rev Robertson claimed SSM would lead to) is the most common form of marriage in the Bible, with monogamy being the exception, rather than the rule.

So likewise are his foolish notions of sexuality and gender merely Christian “ideas”, and when it comes to that, “ideas” shared by him and his minority “Free Kirk” (or Wee Frees, as they are known), which fly completely in the face of scientific research. I offer my heartiest congratulations to Rev Robertson, who stated in his blog, The Wee Flea, that he has recently become a grandfather. However, in the same article, The Ultimate April Fool – An Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon, whilst claiming not to be transphobic, and to be an SNP supporter, he repeats the bigotry he voiced above and, going further, states of his new granddaughter, “My granddaughter was not ‘assigned’ gender at birth, as though she were being given a name. She IS a girl. She is not one of several genders that she can get to pick and choose as she pleases later on, according to some societal construct or government edict.” You could not make it up. Rev Robertson at first states that his granddaughter was not assigned gender, then later affirms “She IS a girl”. This of course neither Rev Robertson, his wife, nor the parents yet know. Yes, she has been assigned female, according to biological sex – not gender – at birth. But for all anyone knows, she may yet grow to identify as transgender or genderfluid. Only time will tell. And if that is the case, will Rev Robertson and the parents then drum into the wee one that she IS a girl? Yet the Scottish Government, and the LGBT+ community are apparently the ones ‘harming’ children. Bigots like he and his Wee Free followers do much more harm than those who, while cisgender themselves, at least are trying to understand trans and genderfluid issues.

Rev Robertson is certainly right on one thing; we do NOT get to choose our gender. Neither I nor any other genderfluid person chose to be so, just as no transgender person ever chose their gender. We were born with it. But then, no doubt the Rev Robertson chooses not to believe that, just as he no doubt does not believe that anyone is ever born intersex, with both sets of genitals. Or if he does, no doubt he believes that the parents should decree which side of the gender binary that child should be, according to their whims on whether they wanted a boy or a girl, and an operation reflecting that carried out, rather than leaving it to the child to decide when they are old enough which – if either – side of the gender binary they most identify with.

Having experimented since I was a child, I never came to terms with being genderfluid until I was “over 40” (don’t ask dears – I’m not telling), following years of depression and self-hate. I can therefore assure the hateful minds of the likes of Rev David A Robertson that despite his fine words, he and those who think like him are indeed transphobes, and do a great deal of harm – much, much more than they will ever know.  And should he be reading this, I will go further with a personal message – you are a bully, Rev Robertson, and in the nature of the bully, a gutless coward at heart.

Another dissenting voice came from the Time for Inclusive Education campaign, who are seeking compulsory inclusive sex and relationship education. A spokesperson stated;

“Only very small steps have been taken here regarding education – Nicola’s strategy here does not go far enough in protecting LGBT+ young people and this does not reflect the motion that was passed at conference. In order to ensure that our schools are inclusive of LGBT+, teaching staff must receive LGBT+ specific training – what Nicola proposes here is blanket equalities training, which will not do enough. Ourselves, SNP Youth and SNP Students expect and hope that the SNP’s manifesto will go much further than this and truly reflect the expectations of the membership who unanimously backed our campaign. If this is the strategy that will be taken into the next parliament, then we still have a very long way to go. We would urge the SNP to work with us on this, because the next strategy has to be the right one.”

I tend to agree the measures do not go far enough with regard to LGBT+ young people. In the run-up to the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, legislation was brought in to reduce voting age to 16. Likewise at 16 young people in Scotland can work, pay taxes, have sex (straight or gay), get married, live alone, order an alcoholic drink with a meal, and join the armed forces. To then say that they require parental approval to change their birth certificate to reflect their gender is to strip them of their rights as young adults. Likewise I agree with TIE that teaching staff need to have specific LGBT+ training to address LGBT+ issues, otherwise they won’t know what the hell they are talking about.

Yet these are but devils in the detail. These proposals from the SNP are to be welcomed and congratulated. The SNP formed the last devolved Scottish Government in 2011 with a majority, in a form of proportional representation voting which was supposed to make majority government an impossibility. They are currently riding very high in the polls, and look set to be returned with another majority government in May, and we can therefore see Nicola Sturgeon’s words as a solid commitment. I am not an SNP member, but I am certainly sympathetic to them, and after the election I shall expect these measures to be implemented as soon as possible.

As we did with Same-Sex Marriage, Scotland is indeed entering a “Brave New World”, but unlike the gloom and doom envisaged by the transphobes, under the wonderful and simply lovely Nicola Sturgeon it is going to be a much better Scotland, inclusive of all who live here no matter their background, and this Scot could not be all the more proud of her country for that.

New Year – New Scotland

SusanGerrieEqual marriage now fully in law in Scotland

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr o Alba na Bòidhche / Happy New Year from Bonny Scotland, darlings, and sorry I’ve not been on here recently.

Well, on 31 December 2014 the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act passed fully into law, with the first marriages taking place on the stroke of midnight, when Susan and Gerrie Douglas-Scott were married in a civil ceremony and Joe Schofield and Malcolm Brown were wed in a Humanist ceremony, both weddings took place in Glasgow.

I am sure all my lovely friends here join me in wishing Susan and Gerrie, and Joe and Macolm, and all other same-sex couples who have wed heartiest congratulations and all the best for the future.  To any who don’t – get a life.

Susan and Gerrie’s wedding was witnessed by Scottish National Party (SNP) First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) and Patrick Harvie MSP, Convenor of the Scottish Green Party.  The involvement of the First Minister, who recently inherited the post from Alex Salmond MSP, in this wedding has drawn some amount of criticism, and not a few nasty comments, from those on the political right and the anti-independence media.  They fail to mention however that Ms Sturgeon was invited by the couple to be a witness, as a personal friend of the couple.   So shame upon the media for attempting to politicise a completely non-political and private event.

JoeMalcolmThe witnesses for Joe and Malcom were Scots Makar (Scots equivalent of the English Poet Laureate) Liz Lochhead and Marco Biagi MSP.  Mr Biagi is the Scottish Government Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment, who had responsibility for bringing the new law into effect.  An openly gay man himself, Mr Biagi stated “With a New Year nearly upon us, there really is no better way to celebrate than by watching these two people get married and make that lifelong commitment to each other.  I am proud of our parliament in passing the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 and proud of Scotland and the country that we are fast becoming.”

I could not agree more.  New Year, new beginnings, new Scotland.

Luvs

Xandra xxx

Same Sex Marriage passed in Scottish Parliament

ImageWell, it’s on it’s way to being law Lovies.  On 4 February 2014 the Marriage and Civil Parnterships (Scotland) Bill passed the final third stage vote in the devolved Scottish Parliament by 105 votes to 18.  It was a free vote, rather than along party lines, and there were no abstentions, thereby making Scotland the 17th nation to recognise same sex marriage.

The Scottish Bill is truly momentous, as unlike the kneejerk legislation for England and Wales forced through Westminster in 2013, this law makes greater provision for transgender people.  Married transgender people in Scotland will no longer be forced to obtain written consent from their spouse before they can get legal recognition of their gender.  This is a clause which Liberal-Democrat Peer Baroness Barker regretted not being included in last year’s Westminster Bill.

The Scottish Bill will also allow for gender neutral and humanists ceremonies (for both heterosexual and same sex marriages), unlike in England and Wales.  And the Church of Scotland will not automatically be banned from solemnising same-sex marriages, unlike the Church of England and the Church in Wales.

The Kirk itself however was less than enthusiastic.  Alan Hamilton, convenor of the Kirk’s legal questions committee stated, “The Church of Scotland holds to the mainstream Christian belief that marriage is properly between a man and a woman”  Hmmm, just a shame for you there is nothing in the Bible to support that view dearie.   The other churches in Scotland, including the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, are outright refusing to recognise same sex marriage. And Rev James Gracie of the Free Church of Scotland Continuing in Edinburgh, protesting outside the Holyrood parliament building, stated, “Scotland is rejecting God today”  Oh if only Dear.

Probably the saddest objections came within the ranks of the Scottish National Party (SNP), who run the majority administration in the Scottish Parliament.  John Mason MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) attempted to table several last minute amendments to the Bill, one of which stated that no public sector employee should suffer “detriment” for believing marriage to be between a man and a woman.  Health Secretary Alex Neil MSP however rejected these, stating that robust protections for faith groups had already been included in the legislation.  Other SNP objectors included Roseanna Cunningham MSP and Fergus Ewing MSP.  Labour MSP and deputy presiding officer Elaine Smith, has also long been an objector, even at one point claiming she was the one being persecuted as ‘homophobic’.  Yes, pick up a dictionary Elaine, dear, and if the cap fits, wear it.

The Bill however has been widely congratulated by LGBT groups.  Tom French, Policy Co-ordinator of the Equality Network, stated “Today will be remembered in history as the day that lesbian, gay and bisexual people were finally granted full legal equality in Scotland, and given an equal right to marry the person they love.  This is a profoundly emotional moment for many people who grew up in a country where being gay was still a criminal offence until 1980. Scotland can be proud that we now have one of the most progressive equal marriage bills in the world, and that we’ve sent out a strong message about the kind of country we are.  We know this change means so much to LGBT people across Scotland and we look forward to the first same-sex marriages taking place as soon as possible.” 

This is true indeed.  In the 1980s I used to work next door to a LGBT bookshop, and well recall that whenever the local police got bored, they would raid it for obscene materials.  No charges were ever brought and the shop would eventually get their stock back – damaged of course.  I also recall a gay friend of mine and his boyfriend being arrested in 1984 for “Outraging Public Morals” – by walking down a street hand-in-hand.  It is truly amazing how homophobia has been turned around in Scotland.  While it is still there, it is nowhere near as prevalent as it used to be, and I for one am just more than a wee bit proud of that Loves.  And yes, I am more than a wee bit emotional about this historical event as well.

The Bill has come in for criticism for taking so very long to pass through the parliament.  It should be emphasised however that the SNP administration, with overwhelming cross-party support, deliberately took their time to get this Bill right.  Tim Hopkins, another director of the Equality Network, fully supported the careful deliberations Holyrood took over the Bill, stating in The Scotstman newspaper;

“The Scottish Parliament’s equal opportunities committee did a great job of taking evidence on the Government’s bill. That committee has a rather larger proportion of same-sex marriage sceptics than the parliament as a whole, and that helped ensure that all sides of the debate were closely examined. The committee produced a detailed report on the evidence, and in a free vote on 20 November, the parliament voted by 98 votes to 15 to approve the principles of the bill.”

It is also worth considering that the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill is the most momentous piece of legislation concerning partnerships ever tabled in Scottish history.  It includes legislation not only for LGBT couples, but for all, irrespective of sexuality and/or gender.  It was important for the Scottish government therefore to make this Bill watertight and ensure that it is truly representative of all the people.

The Bill now only awaits Royal Assent by the Queen (why we even bother with Betty is beyond me dears).  Various commentators have predicted that the first same sex marriage in Scotland could take place anytime between July and September.  The Scottish government for their part have given an undertaken to now speed up the process to get the Bill into Law as quickly as possible.  Watch this space for updates.

Finally, as a wonderful footnote to this enormous step in Scottish history, before the third vote passing the Bill took place, and with anti-SSM protestors forming outside, a rainbow formed above the Scottish Parliament building;

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Same Sex Marriage Bill passes first vote in Scottish Parliament

_61458371_015283523-1Hello Dears.  It’s been a little while since I’ve been here.   Sorry for neglecting you.

So, on Wednesday, 20 November 2013, Scotland took another momentous step forward when the Bill promoting same sex marriage was passed in the first stage in the devolved Scottish Parliament.  Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) voted in favour to promote the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, 98 for and 15 against with five abstentions.

The Bill will enter stage two in the new year, then a third vote has to follow.  While this may be taking time, it is worth noting that the Bill does not only cover same sex marriage but is the widest review of marriage law in Scots history, which will see marriage rights being extended to all sexualities and genders.

There has of course been mixed reactions concerning the vote.  To say that those who voted against it were sore losers would be an understatement.  Elaine Smith (Labour Party) MSP stated;

“Since indicating that I did not intend to support the redefinition of marriage, my religion has been disparaged, I have been branded homophobic and bigoted, I have been likened to the Ku Klux Klan, and it was suggested that I be burnt at the stake as a witch,”

Well sorry Elaine dear, but if you take a stance against anyone because they are homosexual, then you are indeed both homophobic and bigoted.  If the cap fits, wear it sweetie.  As for likening Elaine to the Ku Klux Klan?  Well they do indeed define themselves as a Christian organisation, and given that they are rabidly homophobic, it seems to me that Elaine Smith’s own twisted brand of Christianity would be right at home among them.  I of course would never condone calling for Elaine to be burned at the stake as a witch.  Not least because such things were done by intolerant religious bigots – people just like Elaine Smith in fact.

And no-one is redefining marriage nor disparaging her religion.  Christianity does not have monopoly upon marriage, and if Elaine Smith imagines it does, then I would challenge her to a) show me a clear definition of marriage in the Bible, and b) tell every non-Christian married couple in the world that they are not married.  If anything, it appears to me that it is Elaine Smith and people like her who seek to redefine marriage (to fit their own bigotry), disparage the faiths and beliefs of non-Christians, and in doing so does her own faith a gross disservice.  Furthermore, Ms Smith was elected as an MSP to represent her consituents, not her faith.  Given that there is no established church in Scotland, and that the Scottish Parliament is already very secular, I would venture if she is unable to understand that, then she is unfit to hold her parliamentary responsibilities.

Sadly, the churches in Scotland take a similar line, with the three main denominations, the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland all saying they will not support same sex marriage.  Fair enough, nobody is asking them to do so.  In fact, if they care to read the Bill (which few people opposing it seem to have done), then they will find that there is provision written into it protecting religious belief. But then, even that was not needed. There is no stipulation upon any clergy to marry anyone, and the churches know this full damned well.  Clergy have always refused to marry couples on various grounds (the most common one being that the couple are not regular church goers).  That does not change, nor could it.  Yet the way the churches are talking, you would think some sort of gay governmental goon squad was going to force clergy to marry gays at gunpoint.

The churches also use the “redefinition” argument and it is disingenious.  As I said before, Christianity has no monopoly upon marriage, and there is no clear definition of marriage laid out in the Bible.  Some, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, are trying to claim that marriage is between a man and a woman for procreation, as Adam and Eve were told to be fruitful and multiply.  If those backing that line are so adamant about that, then I would counter that their churches must equally stop marrying couples where one or more partner is able to conceive due to reasons of health or disability, elderly couples, couples who simply choose not to have a family and asexual couples.  The churches currently have no problem marrying all of the above groups, and in the case of asexual couples, no-one even questions whether or not the marriage has been consummated.  But then, it has happened on occasion that clergy have married a couple where one person is terminally ill on their deathbed, and that marriage has never been consummated.  It seems to me then that, again, if anyone is trying to ‘redefine’ marriage, it is certain clergy and their supporters.

However, as I say, let the churches oppose same sex marriage. That is never going to make it go away, and if the churches dig their heels in, then it will be to their own detriment.  The Christian church has constantly changed and moved with the times down the ages.  Like anything else in society, or like a living creature, it is inevitable that it must do so.  And if any Christian should doubt that, then I challenge them to go out and cure leprosy by sacrificing a pair of doves, as laid out in Leviticus 14:1-57.

Times change and the church must change with the times.  Given that they are so short of bums on pews, which is ever dwindling, you would think that the clergy would learn that lesson.  If they shall not, then I am afraid that they will go the way of all things incapable of evolving; they shall wither and die.  And it may surprise many that although I am an atheist, I do not say good riddance.  I am not an anti-theist.  I fully realise the importance of faith to a great many people, including some in the LGBT community, and if anything the churches, preaching a religion based on love and understanding, to them a disservice as well as themselves.

There have of course been some lighter moments in the debate.  After a Scots Gaelic group on Facebook congratulated the Scottish Parliament on passing the vote, one member left, leaving this message:

“Im unliking this page due to its stance on redefining marriage and ridiculing religion. I support an independent Scotland but my concern is an independent Scotland may be even more anti-Christian. Funny how you can back a group of society in homosexuals and take digs at religious people. Ye politically correct mob love siding with gays and muslims as they are your most valued peoples. An independent Scotland in your hands i assume would support removing the cross from the Saltire as well i suppose? As a die hard supporter of independence however i do encourage you to stop promoting social issues like that.

Before you question my scottish nationalism my ancestors fought in glenbuckets regiment at Culloden for the Bonnie Prince. I didnt know this was a marxist page. I liked this page cause i saw it was a nationalist page and was pro gaelic.”

Because of course Islam takes such a liberal and enlightened stance towards homosexuality, doesn’t it.  Suuuuuure it does.  And of course, we are all Marxists, which makes me suspect the writer is an American fundamentalist who has never read Marx and has no idea what Marxism is about.  But then they more or less prove they do not know what they are talking about when they mention Bonnie Prince Shortbreid Tin himself, Charles Edward Staurt.  The 1745 rebellion was nothing to do with Scottish nationalism.  Charles Edward Stuart’s objective was to unseat the Hanoverian King George II and place his father, James Francis Stuart, on the British throne.  That the Stuarts believed they had the divine right to rule all of Britain, a free Scotland would not have been in their interests.   We can therefore disregard this sad person as what we commonly refer to in Scotland as a numpty.

However, let the naysayers bang on all they want.  The fact is that they have just lost another major battle, and with the vast majority of MSPs in favour of same sex marriage, they have already lost the war.

Homophobia is Scotland’s past.  A country where all have the same rights and respect, regardless of sexuality or gender identity is our future.

Same-sex Marriage Bill published in Scottish Parliament

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It’s official dears.  The Scottish National Party (SNP) administration in the devolved Scottish Government promised they would publish their same-sex marriage bill in June. True to their word, the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill was published in the parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh, on Thursday 27th June 2013.

The Bill makes provision for same-sex marriage while protecting rights of religious groups not to carry out ceremonies.  However, it also for the first time allows Humanist celebrants the ability to officiate marriages for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Some in the opposition parties, Labour, Conservative and Liberal-Democrat, in the Scottish Parliament accused the SNP of dragging their heels on the issue.  Untrue dears, the simple fact is that the administration were so determined to get this right that they were tweaking and fine-tuning the legislation, so as to include trans people.  The Bill thus fully makes provision for transgender people, including allowing transgender people to stay married when obtaining the full Gender Recognition Certificate.

There is of course some opposition to the Bill but this is mostly from the pressure group Scotland for Marriage, who state they will encourage constituents to picket the offices of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs).  In reality this will probably just be a handful of their own supporters doing so.  Oh I really do hope they do so dears.  We have hate crime laws in Scotland and it would give me the greatest of pleasure to see a bunch of ignorant homophobes being carted off by the police.

The Westminster government meanwhile is still working out their Bill for England and Wales, including having problems over trans people.   Unless they can catch up, there may be a period, perhaps a year or more, where same-sex marriage is legal in Scotland but not England and Wales.

As terrible as that would be dears, it does throw open one possibility; that of English or Welsh people running off to Scotland to marry, possibly at Gretna Green, just as eloping teenagers used to do.  Now, just how romantic would that be Loves?

On 24th June 2013 a video was released of Scottish celebrities and politicians supporting same-sex marriage, to the the lovely Amy Macdonald’s wonderful love song for Scotland, “Pride”.

Pride indeed dears.  I’m not just welling up here, I am crying freely and the tears are streaming down my face as I type this.

I am so very, VERY proud to be Scottish today.   Well done and thank you to Alex Salmond and the SNP administration in the Scottish Parliament.

Video message from the Scottish Health Minister, Alex Neil MSP:

Announcement on the Scottish Parliament website:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/newsandmediacentre/65468.aspx

Scottish Parliament page for the Bill and explanatory notes:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/64983.aspx

On

allowing transgender people to stay married when obtaining the full Gender Recognition Certificate. – See more at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/newsandmediacentre/65468.aspx#sthash.Ws5x6Tsm.dpuf