Friday, September 02, 2011

Make sure you take part in Scotland's equal marriage consultation

Today sees the start of a 14 week consultation by the SNP Government on equal marriage and allowing civil partnerships to be conducted by those religious organisations who wish to do so. This is all they promised in their manifesto and I'm glad to see that it's come so soon.  It's also significant, as Lallands Peat Worrier points out, that it's Nicola Sturgeon who is fronting the consultation, and not either of the Justice ministers.

I am also impressed that she's said in straightforward fashion that the Government tends towards the view of allowing same sex marriage.

We can't assume that legislation for equal marriage will automatically follow, though. It's important that every single person who believes in takes part in the consultation. This for me is a fundamental matter of equality and fairness. My husband and I don't love each other any more or less than two men or two women, so why on earth should the mechanisms for committing to each other be so blatantly discriminatory? It makes no sense.

Religious organisations can be reassured that they will not be compelled to carry out either civil partnerships or same sex marriages if they don't wish to do so. However, those who do will have that freedom. Allowing equal marriage, and religious organisations to carry out both same sex marriages and civil partnerships really is a win win for everybody. Those who don't approve shouldn't have the right to force their disapproval on those same sex couples who want to get married.

Anyway, the consultation document is here. Have a read through it, answer as many of the questions as you want and send it to familylaw@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. For  handy reference, the questions are:


Do you agree that legislation should be changed so that civil partnerships could be registered through religious ceremonies?


Do you think that the proposals in England and Wales on registration of civil partnerships in religious premises would be appropriate for Scotland?


Do you agree with allowing religious celebrants to register civil partnerships in religious premises?


Do you agree with allowing religious celebrants to register civil partnerships in other places agreed between the celebrant and the couple?


Do you agree that religious bodies should not be required to register civil partnerships?


Do you consider that religious celebrants should not be allowed to register civil partnerships if their religious body has decided against registering civil partnerships?


Do you agree that individual religious celebrants should not be required to register civil partnerships?


Which of the options do you favour to ensure that religious  bodies  and celebrants do not have to register civil partnerships against their will?

The options are: Option 1 would be to extend the  existing authorisations of celebrants under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 for opposite sex marriage so that the same celebrants would automatically have the ability to register civil partnerships.  It would be made clear that religious bodies and celebrants who
did not wish to register civil partnerships would not be required to do so.

 Option 2 would be to set up a new procedure, separate to that for the solemnisation of opposite sex marriage, under which all religious bodies who wished to register civil partnerships could advise the Registrar General which celebrants they would like to be authorised to register civil partnerships.   It would be made clear that  it would not be discriminatory to decide against seeking approval to register civil partnerships.

Religious bodies may not wish their premises to be used to register civil partnerships.   Do you agree that no legislative provision is required to ensure religious premises cannot be used against the wishes of the relevant religious body?



Do you agree that the law in Scotland should be changed to allow same sex marriage?


Do you agree that religious bodies and celebrants should not be required to solemnise same sex marriage?

Do you agree with the introduction of same-sex civil marriage only?  


Do you agree with the introduction of same-sex marriage, both religious and civil?


Do you agree that religious bodies should not be required to solemnise same sex marriage?


Do you consider that religious celebrants should not be allowed to solemnise same sex marriages if their religious body has decided against solemnising same sex marriage?


Do you agree that individual religious celebrants should not be required to solemnise same sex marriage?


Which of the options do you favour to ensure that religious  bodies and celebrants do not have to solemnise same sex marriage against their will?

Those options in full : Option 1 would be to extend the existing authorisations of celebrants under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 so that the same celebrants would have the ability to solemnise same sex marriage.   It would be made clear that religious bodies and celebrants who did not wish to solemnise same sex marriage would not be required to do so.17

Option 2 would be to set up a new procedure, separate to that for the solemnisation of opposite sex marriage, under which all religious bodies who wished to solemnise same sex marriage could advise the Registrar General which celebrants they would like to be authorised.  It would be made clear that
it would not be discriminatory to decide against seeking approval to solemnise same sex marriage.


Religious bodies may not wish their premises to be used to solemnise same sex marriage.   Do you agree that no legislative provision is required to ensure religious premises cannot be used against the wishes of the relevant religious body?


If Scotland, should introduce same sex marriage, do you consider that civil partnerships should remain available?


Do you have any other comments?
We are particularly interested in your views on:

potential implications of the proposals for transgender people (paragraph
3.42)
possible transitional arrangements (paragraphs 3.43 and 3.44);
recognition of Scottish same sex marriages elsewhere (paragraphs 3.45 to
3.49);
any comments on forced marriage (paragraphs 3.51 and 3.52)
any comments on sham marriage (paragraph 3.53)
potential financial implications (paragraphs 4.01 to 4.08);
potential equality implications (paragraphs 4.09 to 4.14).

Now, you can probably guess my answers to all of the above, but I will post them on here at some point in the future when I feel you might need reminding to respond to the consultation.

And now, you might like to read another post on this subject the new fabulous blog for those who love centre-left liberal politics in Scotland, the Scots Gazette.

Oh, and if you want to read some more on the subject, and were wondering what we'd do with civil partnerships if same sex marriage were introduced, read this by Sophie Bridger.

You may also want to write to your MSP to ask them to state their support for equal marriage. Those very helpful and lovely people at LYS have put a  link on their website that will send an e-mail to all who represent you. They've even drafted the letter for you - although it's always a good idea to add a little bit of yourself into it.

And, if you think that same sex marriage is wrong, imagine if someone passed a law that said you couldn't get married to someone more than, say, 4  years older, or from a different country. How would you feel if that applied to you and the person you loved and wanted to have a legal union with?

2 comments:

Melaina25 said...

I really wish the consultation was more accessible. I'm not saying Survey Monkey but there has to be a more user friendly format. This is an issue I feel passionately about but thinking about trying to answer all those questions in that format...well I don't know when I will be able to do it :(

Caron said...

Actually, Melaina, that's a really good point.

I was muttering to myself as I copied and pasted all the questions, I have to say.

But you really will do it, won't you - just imagine all the other side writing ill informed prejudice, and it'll motivate you with the need to counteract it.

Maybe we need to challenge the Government on how it runs its consultations. Thanks.

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