By Kelley Temple MSYP (Edinburgh Northern and Leith)
It is a great testament to the hard work of young people in Scotland and MSYPs across the country that the Love Equally campaign has really put the issue of equal marriage on the national agenda. This morning the SYP office was the venue for a press conference for representatives from religious communities in Scotland, who wanted the opportunity to explain why many religious organisations wanted the option and opportunity to conduct same sex marriages.
I found the conference to be a really exciting and refreshing opportunity to hear the perspective of a number of faith groups. Speaking were senior figures from religious organisations such as the Quakers, Unitarians, the Pagan Federation, Liberal Judaism, the Metropolitan Community Church and the Buddhist Community of Interbeing.
Reporters were asking questions about the concerns religious organisations have about being ‘forced’ to conduct same sex marriage. The groups present were very clear that the campaign is not about forcing religious groups to do anything, but about empowering them to conduct same sex marriages if they want to.
I was particularly interested in the view put forward that the current prohibition of same sex marriage is actually a violation of religious freedom. If we consider the exceptions which religious organisations currently enjoy, such as in employment law, for the state to prevent religious organisations conducting marriages between their members is improper, and not the place of the state.
These religious organisations were very clear in their frustration that they can not currently not honour long term committed relationships for people of the same gender in the same way they can between a woman and a man. It was very refreshing as an MSYP to speak to these religious organisations and realise the scope and depth of the support for the Love Equally campaign, which helped to bring the Scottish Government Consultation forward. The mandate which young people in Scotland have given the Scottish Youth Parliament to fight for equal marriage is well on its way to being fulfilled – and I am sure the Scottish Government have taken note. It was an honour to be involved with the event and we are delighted that religious organisations are throwing their weight behind the campaign.
We are still concerned that the government consultation doesn’t address the issue of heterosexual or people of the opposite gender being able to obtain a civil partnership and since we believe in equal rights for all, young people in Scotland want to see this option being made available. The press conference this morning was really inspiring and I know I am really keen that the Scottish Government takes notice of the opinions of religious groups who want the right to perform same sex marriage, and equal marriage for all.