It’s been two years since the Scottish Youth Parliament launched Love Equally. In those two years our campaign has gone from a ‘wedding’ outside Parliament to a Bill which promises to give every couple the chance to get married, whether they are mixed-sex or same-sex. It’s been a big challenge. We’ve faced a well-funded and controversial opposition. But those obstacles were nothing compared to the two huge advantages we have. The fact that the vast majority of young Scots believe in Equal Marriage, and the undeniable case we’ve presented. Despite two years of campaigning, no one has yet been able to come up with a good reason why love is less important than the old-fashioned idea of only mixed-sex marriages.
Today is important because it marks the last chance for evidence to be submitted for the Bill. Of course, SYP have been part of the process for some time. We helped secure over 20,000 responses to the first consultation in 2011, and have continued to work closely with our brilliant marriage equality campaigning partners, the Equality Network, Stonewall Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, NUS Scotland, at every stage to ensure this is a good Bill.
For today we’ve been involved in two great pieces of work. Firstly, we’ve worked with a range of children’s organisations to submit a joint letter to the Scottish Parliament. SYP, along with LGBT Youth Scotland, SCCYP, YouthLink Scotland and Children in Scotland have all signed the letter supporting Equal Marriage . The full letter can be read here, but the key paragraph says:
“We are writing to you on behalf of five children and young people’s organisations to express our support for the provisions in the Marria
ge and Civil Partnership Bill for equal marriage in Scotland. We believe that the Bill will play a significant role in advancing equality in Scotland and creating the country our children and young people wish to see.”
Along with the letter, SYP has also submitted a detailed consultation response on the Bill itself. You can read the full response here – but the key points are:
- The Scottish Youth Parliament believes that two people who love each other should be able to get married. The law in Scotland should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry if they want to do so.
- The Scottish Youth Parliament agrees that belief marriage ceremonies should be established as a distinct type of ceremony from religious and civil marriages.
- The Scottish Youth Parliament believes that if religious organisations want to perform same-sex marriages and civil partnerships, they should be allowed to do so. We understand that not every religious institution would want to do this, however we believe it should be a matter for them to decide, with appropriate legal protections put in place to protect this freedom in accordance with their own decision-making processes. However, we also firmly believe that religious institutions that wish to conduct same-sex marriages and civil partnerships should not be prevented from doing so by law and should have the ability to decide this for themselves, in accordance with their own decision-making processes.
- The Scottish Youth Parliament supports the introduction of the option of a gender-neutral form of words for same-sex marriage ceremonies, and recommends this option be extended to mixed-sex couples who would prefer it.
- The Scottish Youth Parliament is content with the proposed process for changing a civil partnership to a marriage.
- Couples who have registered a civil partnership outside Scotland should be allowed to get married without dissolving their partnership.
- The Scottish Youth Parliament welcomes the commitment to end the current situation where transgender people must divorce in order to obtain gender recognition.
- The Scottish Youth Parliament agrees that no new legislation is necessary specifically relating to education and same-sex marriage.
- The Scottish Youth Parliament believes that mixed-sex couples should be allowed to register a civil partnership if they wish.
Of course, this is not the end of our involvement. Next month we’ll be giving evidence in person to the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee on the Bill, and we’ll continue to work with our partners, the Parliament and the Scottish Government to ensure a really good Bill is passed. You can help to by emailing your local MSP and getting them to pledge their support for the Bill. Of course, if they have already, send them a note to thank them for doing so. The Equality Network have a great resource here to do so.
Love Equally has been a journey for SYP. But we’re much closer to the end than the beginning. Let’s all work together to keep the pressure up. Because working together we can make a better, fairer, and more equal Scotland, where love is the most important thing for marriage.