A symbolic same-sex wedding was held outside the Scottish Parliament on the morning after the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland “declared war” on equal marriage.
Originally married in South Africa, Jaye and Ruth, a Christian couple now living in Glasgow, were blessed by the Rev Jane Clarke of the Metropolitan Community Church — one of several faith groups in Scotland that backs a change in the law to allow same-sex marriage.
After the ceremony, Jaye said: “When we get on the plane in Cape Town, we’re a married couple with a marriage certificate, but when we get off the plane in Glasgow we’re not married — and we feel that needs to change. We’re a couple with faith. We believe in God. We believe in freedom of religion. Religions should not be forced to conduct same sex marriage, but neither should they dictate to the other faiths and religions that want to conduct same sex marriage — freedom of religion cuts both ways.”
Among the “wedding guests” were several Members of the Scottish Parliament. Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party, described equal marriage rights as “a long time coming,” but accepted that the present debate would not be happening without the many months of campaigning by the Equality Network and its allies. He concluded: “Basically all I need to do is get myself a husband!”
Mary Fee, Scottish Labour MSP for West Scotland and Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee, added: “I’ve been a supporter of this campaign since its inception. Everybody has worked very hard to get to this point, and hopefully we’re almost now at the end of the road, when the (Scottish) Government ends the discrimination and makes marriage a right for everyone.”
The previous week, the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Southern, Jim Eadie, lodged a parliamentary motion recognising the “fantastic” campaign by those in favour of equal marriage. With the recent published comments by Cardinal Keith O’Brien clearly in mind, he said: “Our message to the Scottish Government should be this: stand firm, hold your nerve, do not turn back and do what is right for the people of Scotland and for the LGBT community. I want to live in a Scotland that is based on equality, justice and fairness, a country that can be a beacon for progressive politics and progressive society, a country of which we can all be rightly proud.”
Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, insisted: “I believe we have the moral high ground already, because we’re simply campaigning for equality and for religious freedom. We’ve said — right from the start — that churches and religious bodies that disagree with same sex marriage are completely free not to conduct them. If that requires a small change to equality legislation to put it beyond doubt, then we’re quite happy to see that.
“Nevertheless, if it transpires, that a campaign against same sex marriage is run by the leaders of the Catholic Church, or anybody else, then we are going to need to respond to that and make sure that our elected representatives, and everybody else, hear the voice of reason.”