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Equal marriage bill overwhelmingly passes Stage 1 Debate in Scottish Parliament

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  1. Really brilliant news, we’re almost there! Let’s hope nobody tries to throw a spanner in the works during the amendment stage.

    If I’ve added it up correctly, then 10 MSPs didn’t bother to turn up to the vote at all. I’ll be interested to see the breakdown of individual MSPs to see who voted (and how they voted), who abstained and who didn’t bother to turn up and do the job they were elected and are paid to do.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 20 Nov 2013, 8:29pm

      Was wonderful to watch, Bennie, great majority too! The same boring arguments against it were trotted out echoing word for word everything heard south of the border. Great to see electronic voting, better than our antiquated system in London.

    2. There weren’t 10 missing, just 9. 98+15+5=118, plus the PO is 119, plus the current vacancy due to the passing of Helen Eadie brings us to 120. Some of these are away on business, but are supportive (such as Stewart Maxwell). For a full list, it’ll be up with the Official Report tomorrow, or you can see them on the STV website here:

      1. Yes, you’re right about Helen Eadie. However 9 MSPs still weren’t there. This argument that they had other more important business annoys me, and I said exactly the same about those MPs who didn’t vote at Westminster. This vote will have tabled in advance, surely any business can be arranged around it? A politician’s main duty is to vote for legislation, arguably, so it wouldn’t take much effort to arrange all other business around votes.

        1. I know of at least two who were in Europe on governmental/parliamentary business. This vote was only scheduled this week, it was meant to be yesterday, but was postponed because of the funeral of Helen Eadie. I don’t know what you expect MSPs to do, really.

          1. The job they’re elected and paid a great deal of money to do. No other profession would put up employees not turning up to carry out their main duty, so why should we make excuses for politicians? We elect politicians to vote on our behalf to make laws. It can’t be beyond the organisational skills of the Scottish Parliament to schedule votes in advance so that government ministers and back bench MSPs (and MPs and Councillors too) can arrange business to suit. What would be an unnacceptable amount of MSPs missing votes because of other business – 25%, 50%, 75%. What if only a handful turned up to vote? If the First Minister and most of the Scottish government, who I assume are extremely busy, could manage to turn up then why can’t other MSPs?

          2. gattagiudeca 21 Nov 2013, 1:29am

            Are you an MSP Gregor? Were you one of the MSPs who didn’t attend the vote? You seem to have got annoyed by what was a relatively minor point in BennieM’s original post. The further criticism of BennieM that he is being unreasonable and is expecting MSPs to go over-and-above, was uncalled for. I think it is perfectly reasonable for an LGBT person to expect MSPs to attend this vote and want to know why they didn’t. He wasn’t specifying only one political party so it can’t be that, that has annoyed you.

          3. For some reason I can’t reply further down this thread. No, I’m not an MSP, but I just think that people treat politicians really badly. Would you do that job?

            If there are international events and conferences and memorial services, I think it’s right that our government are represented. Where there are inter parliamentary bodies, I think it’s right that our representatives are there. We live in a representative democracy and they have far more duties than purely voting.

            The schedule was changed last minute because of the death of an MSP. How the bureau are meant to foresee that is beyond me.

          4. Gregor, I understand that a change in the time of the vote due to the death of an MSP might cause difficulties. However, I was unaware of that as it wasn’t widely reported. People who mix in political circles might have known, but I’m afraid I don’t!
            So I feel my initial comment about it was fair enough, and thanks for finally explaining.
            I do, however, disagree that we shouldn’t ask questions of politicians. It is us who elect them and it is right that we hold them to account.
            As for them having a difficult job, they chose to do it! Nobody forced them.
            They also have a really good salary and pension when they retire. Even councillors in Scotland can get a salary over 20 grand if they are the leader of the council. Some MSPs were also MPs at one point, so they’ll have more than one big fat pension to live on. They could do a much less difficult job on minimum wage.
            So forgive me for asking legitimate questions about why some MSPs – most of them backbench – can’t do their duties.

        2. it was clear that there was going to be a big majority in favour. If the vote had been closer you might legitimately say that EVERY MSP had a duty to be there but even in those cases you usually have parliamentary pairing systems to ensure that unavoidable absences do not throw close votes.

        3. One final question, Gregor, which I’m sure you’ll be happy to answer. Given what you’ve said, you must think it was acceptable for 47 Labour MPs to miss the bedroom tax vote in Westminster last week? Or does your sympathy for politicians stop at Holyrood?

    3. Helge Vladimir Tiller 20 Nov 2013, 9:13pm

      Happy News- Makes me happy, too. Thumbs up for BennieM and everyone in Scotland ! ( Norway )

      1. Thanks, Helge! We’re almost there now!

  2. That There Other David 20 Nov 2013, 8:52pm

    After all the wait so good to see Holyrood bringing this to the floor. Great result. I really hope the next two votes go as smoothly. Early 2014 is very close. This could be over just in time for us all to undo our post-Christmas detox.

  3. 98 votes to 15!


    Well done, Scottish Parliament!

  4. I’ve been looking at how MSPs voted on the BBC website. 7 of the 8 MSPs who represent me voted in favour of equal marriage: 2 Conservative, 3 Labour and 2 SNP. The 8th one (SNP) isn’t listed at all, so he must not have been there at all, although he did reply to an e-mail saying he supported it. I’m so pleased that all of my own local MSPs are all decent people who believe in gay equality.

  5. According to the BBC website (yes, sorry! I should have avoided that cesspit of pro-establishment), Labour MSP Elaine Smith told parliament: “Since indicating that I did not intend to support the redefinition of marriage, my religion’s been disparaged, I’ve been branded homophobic and bigoted, I’ve been likened to the Ku Klux Klan and it was suggested that I be burnt at the stake as a witch.”

    Oh, she sounds like she’s offended. Well now she knows how it feels – well only very slightly. I doubt she’s had to endure years of abuse as many of us have had to. She’s a stain on Scottish Labour. Her colleagues should be ashamed of her, particularly as she’s undoubtedly incapable of feeling shame herself.

    1. I can’t believe the gall of this woman. She demands respect but gives us none. Labour should be ashamed of her and do something about her. Sadly, though, she’s here to stay. I hate that there are homophobes like this in parliamentary and governmental positions in Scotland, and their parties defend them.

      1. Think positively Bennie as her bigoted opinion was in a tiny minority! At least you’re not in Northern Ireland like I am. Her opinion is the majority view in the Stormont Assembly. If Scotland should become independent, I will apply for asylum in Scotland!! It is the politician descendants of Scottish planters from the 1600s that are the problem here. They haven’t evolved from that period. I wish Scotland would take them back! lol. Elaine Smith may well be a witch, but I’m sure she isn’t quite as bad as Edwin Poots. He’s the devil.

        1. You are more than welcome, J, but why wait only if Scotland becomes independent? You’re welcome whether that happens or not. I know a few Northern Irish people who’ve settled in Scotland, from young(ish) people my age to old friends of my mother. All are happy here, I’m sure you’d be too.

          I know I moan about the handful of homophobes we have in Scottish politics, but when you compare it to Northern Ireland it really puts it into perspective. I should sometimes be glad that we’ve got it this good in Scotland. I understand it was King James VI & I who encouraged Scots to settle in NI, if I remember my history lessons correctly. Look how that turned out!

          I think NI will catch up with the rest of the UK on equality, although it may take a wee bit of time.

  6. Equality Network 21 Nov 2013, 1:16am

    Here are the complete voting lists. As Bennie M said, 9 MSPs were absent for a variety of reasons mostly related to the late change of date and time. They are mostly if not all supporters of the bill.

    1. I know it hasn’t affected the outcome of this vote, and therefore shouldn’t matter, but I just feel strongly about it. I said exactly the same about MPs who were absent for the votes in Westminster on equal marriage (and the bedroom tax vote last week, for that matter).

      I just feel that politicians get paid a lot of money to do their job and not voting without good reason is unnacceptable.

      Btw, you guys at the Equality Network must be feeling really pleased tonight after all the time and work you’ve put in on this! Congratulations and thanks from me! I bet there are one or two empty champagne bottles in your office tonight!!!

      1. Equality Network 21 Nov 2013, 1:43pm

        Thanks – gin glasses in the pub anyway!

  7. As a Scotsman and his Scots “civil partner” living in Wales, finally we can visit our homeland without having our partnership temporarily annulled each time we visit.

    1. But Scotland has civil partnerships, they were brought in at the same time as the rest of UK. So surely your civil partnership has never been temporarily annulled whenever you’ve visited Scotland?

    2. Civil Partnerships are UK-wide legislation.

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