Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has today (18 July) confirmed he personally backs same-sex marriage.
He made his comment during a press briefing at Bute House, Edinburgh, his official residence.
He told Alan Roden, political editor of the Daily Mail Scotland, that he affirms his previous statement of support of support to gay marriage saying: ‘I haven’t changed my mind.’
‘The job and duty of a cabinet… is to… consider the propositions and the arguments that are put to you fully.
‘You don’t just take what the First Minister’s inclinations are in this particular debate. That is the difference between personal views and your duties as First Minister.’
Salmond also said there was never going to be an announcement yesterday, contrary to claims that have circulated in the media.
He said: ‘The Scottish government never said that we were going to announce the decision after cabinet.
‘Our position was that we would announce a way forward by the end of the month. That’s still our position and we’ll do that.
‘I do think in this debate above all, with such deeply held feelings, there is a general responsibility which falls on government, on media and press and all participants in the debate that we try and keep the debate on a moral issue of conscience on as high a level as possible.
‘That’s what the Scottish government intends to do and we’ll publish both the findings of the consultation and an indication of the way that we see moving forward by the end of this month.’
He also confirmed that the cabinet discussed and rejected the call by the Catholic Cardinal Keith O’Brien to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage.
He said: ‘We examined carefully the proposal for a referendum.
‘We didn’t dismiss the proposal out-of-hand, we had a full cabinet discussion on the matter.’
He added that a referendum wasn’t appropriate and said a parliamentary free vote would the best way forward.
Speaking with Gay Star News, Colin Macfarlane, director of gay campaign group Stonewall Scotland, said: ‘It is encouraging to hear the First Minister re-affirming his commitment to equal marriage and it is of course right the government considers the issue effectively.
‘It had been seven months since the consultation closed, so we now look forward to the end of the month and urge ministers to make the right decision and say I do to equal marriage.’
Yesterday the government issued a press statement suggesting its commitment to same-sex marriage and how they are examining the issue.
A cabinet sub-committee was formed, headed by the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. The cabinet sub-committee would examine how to protect ‘religious freedom and freedom of speech’ if gay marriage was legalized and report directly to the First Minister, who will announce the way forward later this month without another cabinet meeting.
Sturgeon’s sub-committee includes Scottish Education Secretary Michael Russell and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who previously signed the equal marriage pledge.
The committee is also being advised by Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, who will advise on how faith groups who oppose same-sex marriage can opt out of ceremonies.
The inclusion of Russell in the group suggests that the issue of how gay marriage will be addressed in education will be examined.