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Gay marriage plans announced by Scottish government

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Today, the Scottish government announced its plans to pursue legislation legalizing marriage equality by the beginning of 2015, the BBC reports.  The majority Scottish National Party (SNP), which leans left, had been expected to release plans for marriage legislation last week, but punted on the issue, saying the government needed more time to protect religious liberties for churches that wanted to opt out of offering marriages to gay and lesbian couples.

That move angered equality advocates, who pointed out that ministers had had seven months to pore over the government’s public consultation on the matter, which garnered 77,508 responses, the most in Scotland’s history.  The Scottish government now plans to conduct another consultation on extra measures that citizens think should be taken in terms of freedoms of speech and conscience for those opposing marriage equality.

Speaking to the BBC, Scotland’s deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the following:

“We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships – we believe that this is the right thing to do.

“We are also mindful of the fact that the leaders of all of the other parties represented in parliament support same sex-marriage and that there is significant parliamentary support for legislation.”

“The Scottish government has already made clear that no religious body will be compelled to conduct same-sex marriages and we reiterate that today. Such protection is provided for under existing equality laws.

Sturgeon also pointed out that the SNP believes an amendment should be added to the UK Equality Act that would protect inidividual congregants who disagree with their church’s decision to recognize marriage equality.

The UK government is moving forward on its own plans to allow for equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.  That legislation should be complete by 2015, although current plans in Westminster would not allow for any houses of worship to conduct marriage ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples outside of Scotland, should the SNP’s new legislation go through as expected.

11 Comments

  • 1. Tyler O.  |  July 25, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Another consulation? No gov't spends this much time and energy deciding whether to go to war!

  • 2. _BK_  |  July 25, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I'm quite confused. How complex can changing a marriage law be? Just look at the examples from other nations…

  • 3. DonG  |  July 25, 2012 at 10:16 am

    C'mon, folks. It's called homophobia!!

  • 4. Straight Ally #3008  |  July 25, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Oh, they'll take the high road and we'll take the low road, and they'll get to equality before us…..

  • 5. Bob  |  July 25, 2012 at 11:21 am

    But the point is,,,,, we're all getting there!!!!!!!!!!!!! woot woot

  • 6. Steve  |  July 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    What a ridiculous amount of deference to nutjobs stuck in the middle ages

  • 7. Reformed  |  July 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Some just want to delay, pretending to work out their concerns about "religious liberty". In the end those same people will vote against it anyway.

  • 8. Mike in Baltimore  |  July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Maybe those who are against marriage equality should be forced to point out which legal provision they use to say "you and you can be married in the church, temple, synagogue, etx., but you and you cannot".

    As an example, maybe the RCC should be forced to point out where it can decide a couple that includes someone who has been divorced cannot get married, then tell them that they can use that same legal provision to not marry two people of the same sex.

    And if the RCC cannot provide the legal provision requested, then the RCC can be sued for being discriminatory?

  • 9. Pat  |  July 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    2015 only?? why not 2017 or 2020?

  • 10. davep  |  July 26, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Indeed. Especially in the case of countries like Denmark, which also has a 'state church' so it is similarly situated to the arrangement in Scotland. Denmark got this done pretty quickly, and Scotland wouldn't need to do much more than a 'cut and paste' to follow their example and get it done even faster and with far less expense. It's rather telling when factions within a government are in favor of 're-inventing the wheel' and spending large sums of taxpayer money and lots of time to address an issue that has clearly already been successfully addressed by other countries. It calls into question the true motives for such actions.

  • 11. Mike in Baltimore  |  July 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Maybe because if it goes into effect by 2015, unless a new law is passed specifically overturning the previous law, it will still be in effect in 2017 AND 2020.

    And if you had read the article, you might have noticed that "the Scottish government announced its plans to pursue legislation legalizing marriage equality by the beginning of 2015."

    It could pass the legislation in 2012, 2013 or in 2014, with the effective date sometime before January 1, 2015.

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