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Scotland: Former first minister backs marriage for gay couples

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  1. Excellent news.

    More pressure for Salmond and Sturgeon to find some moral fibre and make the right decision.

    1. Kevin Donnelly 6 Jul 2012, 4:34am

      Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has made clear on many occasions that he personally (like former FM Jack McConnell), supports equal marriage rights in Scotland.

      Most recently he again publicly expressed his personal support for gay marriage on a visit to the USA -(see BBC report

      This was not reported in the “Pink Paper” although it did carry California Governor Jerry Brown’s call for equal status.

      I am certain the Pink Paper is not biased against Alex Salmond, the SNP or the Scottish Government, but perhaps simply overlooked Salmond’s personal commitment.

  2. Jack McConnell has no vote in the Scottish Parliament as he’s no longer an MSP but now in the House of Lords.

    Furthermore, his Labour/LibDem administration didn’t oversee the introduction of Civil Partnerships, they chickened out of dealing with it even though I’m pretty sure it was a devolved matter. They waited for the UK Labour government to do it for the rest of the UK and then used a Sewell motion to adapt those plans to cover Scotland too.

    1. Still welcome his support

      Still pressure on Salmond and Sturgeon to find their balls and do the right thing.

      1. Yes, absolutely and it means more support in the Lords for the English/Welsh Bill.

        I’m just annoyed that he avoided dealing with Civil Partnerships when he was First Minister and only now comes out in support when he has no votes to worry about or seat to lose.

        Politicians are disgustingly self-serving even if it means not following their conscience and doing the right thing to make sure they keep their seat. That’s something Salmond & Sturgeon will still be worrying about and that worries me in turn, especially when they’ve still to make their decision on whether to legislate for equal marriage or not.

        1. If a Labour/Lib Dem government in Scotland felt they couldn’t deal with Civil Partnerships then it’s even more worrying that we have the current SNP government about to decide on equal marriage. I just hope they show more guts than McConnel and his government did and decide to do it.

          1. That There Other David 5 Jul 2012, 4:32pm

            I don’t see it as worrying. The SNP has a vested interest in Scotland being seen as leading the way, something which the Scottish Labour and Lib Dem politicians never had. Can you imagine Alex Salmond deferring a decision to Westminster on something he has the power to enact at Holyrood? Not a chance.

          2. My point was that traditonally Labour & Lib Dems have been more liberal than the SNP when it comes to gay equality yet even they couldn’t bring themselves to deal with Civil Partnerships when in government in Scotland, so will the SNP deal with equal marriage?

            I never actually suggested Salmond would defer the matter to Westminster, I was suggesting they could drop it altogether or postpone it indefinitely rather than deal with it.

    2. Craig Nelson 5 Jul 2012, 4:30pm

      I disagree. I think there was a lot of value in getting UK wide Civil Partnerships that were identical in England/Wales+Scotland+Northern Ireland including tax, social security and discrimination law which are reserved matters, not devolved; as a result marriage equality is now a more straight forwardly devolved matter though it clearly helps if marriage is extended north and south of the border at more or less the same time.

      1. I can see you argument although I think its a wrong view that England (or Scotland) could not have introduced equal marriage without a stepping stone of CPs. Other countries can manage it, why do we need mollycoddling (or were the politicians who brought in CPs just too timid to tackle the religious bullies?)

      2. I do see your point, Craig, and there is some merit in having the same laws UK wide.

        I’m certainly no expert, but I think that as Scotland has a completely different legal system, most laws have to be tweaked to apply in Scotland when passed at Westminster. Even the Civil Partnership legislation would have been modified slightly to suit Scotland – maybe that just meant a few legal terms and phrases, or maybe it was something more substantial, I’m honestly not sure, but it would have needed something done to it.

        If I remember correctly, didn’t they come into force on slightly different days in different parts of the UK?

        Civil Partnerships were a devolved matter and the whole point of setting up the Scottish Parliament was for devolved matters to be handled in Edinburgh not at Westminster.

        It was a cop out for Jack McConnell’s government, yet he’s now going on about it being the right thing to do and for the Scottish Parliament to use it’s powers when he did the exact opposite.

        1. Tim Hopkins 5 Jul 2012, 8:31pm

          Civil partnership wasn’t jjust modified slightly to suit Scotland! Scotland and England are whole completely different parts of the CP Act, because CP is modelled on marriage law, and Scots marriage law is mostly different from English marriage law! There is common stuff as well, eg dealing with international recognition, but the large majority is different.

          CPs became available in Scotland the day before England & Wales.

          1. Thanks for clarifying, Tim. I suspected as much although as I pointed out in my comment, I didn’t know exactly how different the CP legislation was between England & Scotland – just a little or a lot. When I said slightly modified, I was just guessing and erring on the side of caution – I’m afraid I’m no expert in these things! But what you say only adds to my argument, I think!

  3. Robert in S. Kensington 5 Jul 2012, 5:18pm

    Fantastic, thank you Lord McConnell. Whatever his past views were, let’s all acknowledge that change is possible and that minds evolve over time. Go Scotland, onward to full marriage equality!

  4. Kevin Donnelly 6 Jul 2012, 4:59am

    First Minister Alex Salmond has expressed on numerous occasions his own personal support for marriage equality, most recently during his visit to the USA, which the Pink Paper failed to report while publishing comments from Californias Governor Jerry Brown.

    Alex Salmond’s position was reported by the BBC :

    I am sure the Pink Paper would not deliberately engage in political bias against the SNP Gov in Scotland, or indeed Alex Salmond, however it may serve the paper’s credibility well if it sought to correct the impression that Scotland’s First Minister had no personal commitment to equalities legislation.

    The difference between a serving and former Government leader, is that the former must engage in consultation with all interested parties.

    It is NOT for Alex Salmond or indeed his Government to decide the outcome of that process, but for the whole Scottish Parliament.

    I am certain it will make the right decision.

  5. Daniel Donaldson 7 Jul 2012, 3:38pm

    I object to the statement made here by the equality network:

    “As First Minister, Jack McConnell worked to reduce inequality and prejudice in Scotland, and we welcome the continuation of this work by his successor.”

    This is misleading to say the least. First of all, Jack refused to show leadership as a MSP at a time when the LGBT community needed it most (the battle over Section 28 in Scotland), secondly as first minister, he again refused to show leadership on a range of LGBT and other related equality issues, particularly in respect of education (bullying in schools, supporting lgbt young people etc) and also concerning hate crime (he refused to support the introduction of hate crime legislation in scotland). Finally, in the dying days of his administration he invited LGBT people to tea and under pressure to prop up a failing election campaign, admitted that he had not done enough.

    It is important to offer a balanced view of jack’s history of support for LGBT equality.

    1. I agree with you about McConnell’s history, but as for his successor, Alex Salmond, continuing this alleged pro-gay work, remember the SNP government refused to bring forward equal marriage legislation during their first term, repeating 6 times that it wasn’t a priority, despite the Public Petitions Committee recommending they do it. And there was the SNP gov’s support for catholic adoption agencies to be exempt from Westminster equality legislation – which has resulted in St. Margaret’s adoption agency in Glasgow today being the only adoption agency in the UK which can legally refuse to serve gay people. Then there’s the constant refusal of the SNP to condemn homophobia by it’s members – councillors & MSPs. Salmond was quite happy to give Roseanna Cunningham a ministerial job after her outrageous homophobia – she’s still there today, refusing to carry out her job when it involves gay equality.

    2. But just one point – Jack McConnell wasn’t First Minister or even Labour leader at the time of Sect. 28 (Clause 2a in Scotland), it was the late Donald Dewar.

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