Don’t let partisan political squabbles get in the way of the bigger picture – delivering same-sex marriage equality, says Stewart McDonald
Keep calm and carry on: Equal marriage will happen in Scotland – of that I am confident. Like many people across Scotland and on the twitter-sphere I was disappointed that The Scottish government wasn’t able to make an announcement on Tuesday (17 July) that it would be pressing ahead with a same-sex marriage bill. However it’s important that we look at the bigger picture here and remember who the real enemy is.
Since the announcement of setting up a sub-committee to look at issues surrounding freedom of speech and religious conscience I have been utterly depressed at the amount of partisan bickering between, particularly but not exclusively, Labour and Scottish National Party (SNP) tweeters.
The setting up of this committee is a good thing. The last thing we want is for this bill to be caught up in a legal challenge in court or, worse, people’s marriages open to legal challenge and being nullified as has happened to some of our friends in North America.
Accusations of the SNP going soft on this issue and crumbling under pressure from our theistic friends, and unhelpful retorts from those seeking to defend the government whilst at the same time taking another swipe at the opposition, have actually caused us to be in the exact position that opponents of equality want us to be in; fighting each other instead of fighting them.
Our case is a positive one – a case for ending discrimination and making Scotland a much fairer society. It’s a statement to the world that says lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are part of our society and make a valued contribution to 21st century Scotland, and it’s right and proper that they are treated as equals.
When The Scottish government comes forward with a draft bill then all of us, irrespective of political stripe, religion, sexuality or gender, will have to pull together in what must be one of the most positive campaigns that ordinary people can get involved in; lobbying hard to ensure that when it comes to the vote in parliament our elected representatives respond by making Scotland fairer.
So I would appeal to those of all parties and none who are trying to score points on this issue; please stop. The onslaught of abuse, lies and slander that will be thrown at gay people during the passage of this bill from our opponents will be huge. We’ll be accused of wanting to damage society, foist our ‘gay agenda’ (whatever that is) on society and no doubt something will be said about children or bestiality. There is a bigger picture here. It’s bigger than any person, party or government. It’s about our country and the sort of society that we want to live in. This goes beyond party politics and no one will thank us if we turn it in to rabble.
Equal marriage in Scotland will happen, but it won’t happen by itself. So my advice to those who want to see it happen but were perhaps a bit disappointed by the further delay? Keep calm and carry on.
Stewart McDonald is an active member of the SNP and was recently a local government candidate for the party in Glasgow.