May 2, 2012

IconScotland! Stop consulting on my wedding!

It’s 35 days until I get married. The RSVPs are coming in thick and fast: ‘can’t wait to celebrate your big day’, ‘can I have the vegan option please‘ (bloody lesbians), all the usual.

Sarah and I have been engaged for almost a year and a half, and it’s been much the same as any other engagement. We’ve had disagreements about ribbon in John Lewis and fretted over seating plans. The same as any heterosexual relationship.

Except, it’s not the same. Legally, the differences are minimal, but in the eyes of society when we enter into a Civil Partnership next month, we won’t be married.

Even if the Scottish Government decide, after a lengthy, costly and sometimes bitter consultation process, that same-sex couples should have their relationships recognised in the same way as their heterosexual brother or sister or friend or parent, I won’t be dissolving my Civil Partnership, because to me, that’s what I choose.

The problem is right now, there is not a choice.The Government received over 50,000 responses — the largest response to a consultation ever. But I don’t understand why my neighbour is entitled to an opinion about my relationship. After all, I’m not writing to my MP to pass comment on his life.

This never should have been a consultation. It gave people a platform from which to spout the same old homophobic tripe.

The Scottish Parliament should have lead by example rather than turning our newspapers into a daily war of words.

Scotland for Marriage are an umbrella group of bigots and Daily Mail readers who have campaigned hard against same-sex marriage. They argue that they are not attacking gay people but protecting religious freedom and the institution of marriage.

But as we all know, there is nothing in the Scottish or UK Government plans to force anyone to conduct a same-sex marriage if they do not want to.

And besides, the threat to marriage does not come from two people who love each other and want to celebrate that in their local church or synagogue, but from the Kim Kardashians and Britney Spears of this world who take their vows so lightly that hours or days later, they call the whole thing off.

But you know what? This isn’t even about religion or the sanctity of marriage. This is about equality, which means so, so much more than my Civil Partnership, or what the church thinks a healthy relationship is, or Alex Salmond or David Cameron.

This is about the future of every single lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young person, who are currently being told in a not-so-subtle way that they are not good enough.It’s time for parents, teachers and governments to stop wringing their hands wondering how to tackle homophobic bullying.

Can they really be that short sighted? Do they not see that government policy directly impacts the lives of our children in the playground? That if you tell a lesbian couple in the registry office that they’re not allowed to get married in a church or, god forbid, play a piece of religious music during their ceremony, that that message trickles down into our local communities, our schools, into the minds of vulnerable young people?

How can we re-assure them that we are all the same when we’re not treated like it?  How can we sit there and tell them that it gets better when time ticks by and equality is still frustratingly out of reach?

It’s getting better — of course it is. My sixteen year old self, spotty and self-conscious would have listened wide mouthed and disbelieving if you’d told me then that in ten years time I would be marrying my girlfriend. Back then, I was GAY with a capital G and dodging homophobic insults left, right and centre. I was lucky enough to have a supportive family who made me feel loved and that gave me the strength to face those taunts head on.

But it’s not just the job of a family to protect a child. We all have to take responsibility.For too long, we’ve cowered away from challenging the churches on gay rights, and discrimination has been hidden behind a veil of religious freedom. But this is our chance. Now is our time.

The Scottish Government must stand up and face the bullies head on. In the consultation, they spelled out their position and that was one in favour of extending marriage rights to gay couples. There is cross-party support, and in a recent survey 61% of the Scottish public said they support same-sex couples.

Last year, First Minister Alex Salmond said in his YouTube video that it does get better. Come on, Alex. Time to prove it.

1 Response to Scotland! Stop consulting on my wedding!

  1. Debs says:

    Very well said, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. Until the message comes from our leading politicians, by way of policies and law (not you tube videos) I think there will always be doubt in the mind of the kids whether it is wrong or not. I hope Scotland pulls the finger out and comes good before long, we’ve waited long enough!