Willie Rennie MSP writes…Equal marriage is an important step to a fairer society

Most people know that politicians can sometimes talk up goings on in Parliament in the hope of gaining a bit of newspaper coverage. Observers of Scottish politics will be familiar with claims that this or that debate marks a momentous change from what has gone before.

But this week at Holyrood we discussed legislation that can legitimately be described as historic. There is no need to exaggerate the impact it will have because it is plain to see that this Bill will change the lives of thousands of Scots around the country.an act that offers same-sex couples the same protections and rights as any other couple Now it is Scotland’s turn. On Wednesday, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill had its stage 1 debate at Holyrood.

At the heart of this legislation is a very simple principle. It is wrong that people should be discriminated against simply because they love someone of the same sex. Ending discrimination is the right thing to do and I was pleased to back the Bill along with other Liberal Democrat MSPs.

I know that some people have concerns over what the change in the law will mean. What it will mean for marriage and what it will mean for people of faith.

As a family man myself I am a great fan of the institution of marriage. I do not believe that extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples will undermine my own relationship, or that of anyone else for that matter.

And in terms of the impact of the Bill on religious freedom, the legislation contains substantial protections to ensure that people who feel that they are unable to officiate or take part in same-sex ceremonies cannot be forced to do so. Many human rights groups, who traditionally are sticklers for freedom of speech and religious liberty, are backing the legislation and what it is seeking to achieve.

Before the debate on Wednesday, I met with campaigners for Equal Marriage and told them they are a joyful, happy force for good. I defy anyone who has seen this campaign up close – and understands the difference that Equal Marriage will make to couples in England – to disagree.

This legislation is a big step forwards for equality in Scotland and an important step towards a fairer Scottish society.

* Willie Rennie MSP is leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

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2 Comments

  • It was also a cracking debate full of passion, good humour and good manners on either side of the debate and from all five parties in the chamber.

    And all without any of the unpleasant gems the Westminster debate came out with – “merciless prisms of equality” and “gender transmutant people” will live on long after most of the Commons and Lords speeches are forgotten.

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