It’s Time for a Vote

This week we get to a significant point in the campaign for more equal marriage law in Scotland. On Wednesday there will be a vote in the parliament at Holyrood. Whilst there has been a lot of pre-scrutiny of the legislation and a long political process already, this is the first time that members of parliament get to vote on the legislation.

At the moment, it looks as though there will be a commanding victory for those who want to see change. However, nothing should ever be presumed and people are still contacting their Members of Parliament to urge them to be supportive on Wednesday.

Interestingly, the vote itself is indicative of residual prejudice. It is still apparently acceptable to political parties to have their members being seen to deny the rights of gay people. They are having a free vote – that means there will be no political consequences to anyone voting against party policy on this matter.

Several analogies are helpful here – mixed race marriage, suicide/euthanasia, capital punishment and abortion. You see, if anyone was foolish enough to force a vote on whether black people could get married to white people then the parties would make it a whipped vote. (And let us not be silly enough to believe that such discrimination is a fantasy – I’ve members of my congregation who have lived under racist legislation concerning relationships). Should there ever be a vote to restrict the right of a mixed-race couple to marry then political parties would be queuing up firstly to condemn the idea of a vote in the first place and then to ensure that every one of their members voted the right way. There would be no question of a free vote or it being a “conscience issue”. When it comes to the gays, it is suddenly different.

Looking the other way, consider the votes that are traditionally free votes – they tend to be things like whether to allow euthenasia, whether to bring back hanging and what laws should apply to abortion. Making the votes on whether to allow same-sex couples to get hitched free (ie unwhipped) votes lumps this issue right in with those issues.

Now, straight friends, let me ask you. How would you feel if your own relationship (or potential for relationship) was regarded by parliamentary parties as being akin to euthenasia, hanging and the termination of a pregnancy? If you think it is unreasonable for your gay friends to be treated likewise then there are several things you can do. Firstly, if you are in Scotland then get in touch with your MSPs before Wednesday and urge them to support the proposed changes. (It just takes 2 minutes – see here). Remember, the political parties won’t be doing this – there’s just you to remind them. Secondly, look out for the news and keep up with when the next stages of this voting procedure are. Chances are we are looking at a final vote in the early stages of the new year. Thirdly tell others why you are supportive of this change. Fourthly, if you are a blogger, share your views as to why it’s time for change and pass the video below along. For another persective from St Mary’s on why it’s time, check out Beth’s blog.

And fifthly, take a look at this video one more time and enjoy the positive, joyful campaigning that has been characteristic of this struggle. There’s folk in it that you know. Trust me…

It’s Time

Just watch this video – there’s people and places that you may well recognise.

I’m very pleased to be one of the faces in the video above, which has been produced by the Equality Network to galvanise the last months of the campaign for equal marriage in Scotland. Political leaders, celebrities, thinkers and so-called ordinary folk are uniting around the idea that same-sex couples should have access to the same rights, priviledges and responsibilties as straight couples.

It’s time for the law in Scotland to allow same-sex couples to marry. It’s time for the law to be changed to allow a couple to stay married when one goes through a gender transition. It’s time for gay and lesbian couples to have not merely the same rights as straight couples but also the same social status. In short, it is time for change.

The video has been many months in the planning and producing. I think it is exciting, joyful and a credit to all involved.

One of the most impressive thing about the equal marriage campaigning in Scotland is that it has been relentlessly positive.

I was partly preaching about this yesterday, the day that the Sunday Mail (which is not the Mail on Sunday!) came out gloriously in favour of the equal marriage campaign with a double page spread and an excellent leader column. The Sunday Mail is the widest read paper in Scotland, the Sunday sibling of the Daily Record. I’ll post that sermon on here in a day or two. For now, I’ll just watch the video above one more time.

Equal Marriage is mainstream. Not, as someone suggested to me recently, merely the concern of a tiny minority.

This is an idea whose time has come.

Beth’s blogging about this too – she was there!
And so is Christine McIntosh – she thinks it is time for change