Friday, October 19, 2012

Almost 200 SNP members cheer Gordon Wilson as he describes equal marriage as a "biological cul-de-sac

Sometimes you wonder whether people actually think about the implications of what they're going to say before they open their mouths.

Gordon Wilson has had plenty to say on the equal marriage issue, including that the SNP should not pursue the policy in case it mucked up the independnece referendum.

He excelled himself at the SNP conference n Perth. According to the Telegraph, he told a packed fringe meeting that the SNP Government, by introducing marriage equality,  was pursuing a policy that was a "biological cul-de-sac" because we need more children to be born to balance our ageing population.

The Herald has his actual words, which are actually worse:
Only a man and a woman can naturally have children and what I would call family marriage is the best way of bringing up children. It's a law of nature. Same-sex marriage is a biological cul-de-sac.

That kind of talk actually scares me. Is he really saying that gay people should somehow be forced into heterosexual marriage to up the population? That's certainly the logical conclusion of his comments.

Does he think that people who can't have children should not be allowed to get married? That would be truly shocking. Imagine if you'd had Cancer treatment as a teenager which had rendered you infertile. Does Gordon Wilson think that you should spend your life alone?

Of course, he's completely missing the point that perfectly happy families come in all shapes and sizes. Same sex couples often have children and have the same chance as anyone else of bringing them up fantastically. Happy, successful families come in all shapes and sizes. Judging a family's validity by the sexual orientation or marital status of the parents seems very silly and short-sighted to me. Coronation Street's Charlie Condou went on tv last month to talk about how his family works as he, his partner and a female friend bring up their two children together. I wish Gordon Wilson could just sit down and talk to Charlie with an open mind. He might learn something.

Wilson said on Newsnight some months ago that allowing same sex couples to marry might put off heterosexual men and women from doing so because they would feel that the institution was tainted. If anything, I feel the opposite, a deep sense of injustice that couples who love each other as much as my husband and I do can't enjoy the same legal union as we have.

What worries me is not so much his comments. We expect that sort of thing from Gordon Wilson. It's more that almost 200 SNP members at that meeting were prepared to cheer him for using such offensive language. I coubt that would have happened at a Liberal Democrat conference. Not everybody in the Liberal Democrats supports equal marriage. However, those who spoke against it when our Conference passed policy in favour of it in 2010 did so in very moderate and inoffensive terms. @hollyamory on Twitter sent me this link to a blog post describing how angry students argued against church figures who had tried to whip them up into a frenzy of support for "traditional" marriage. It's a pity that SNP members didn't do the same.

The legislation that the SNP Government intends to bring in is the most liberal solution, giving freedom to couples who love each other to marry and to religious organisations to take part if they wish. No religious celebrant will be forced to conduct same sex marriages if they don't want to. It's a pity that Gordon Wilson can't display the same sort of tolerance and that there is so much support within the SNP for his view.

Update: Patrick Harvie has said on Twitter that he gathers that "a lot of those cheering were bussed in by the Scotland for Marriage campaign, not all SNP delegates."




6 comments:

Gerry said...

I find it strange to say that "there is so much support within the SNP for his view" when the SNP government is pushing ahead with Same Sex marriage. They are going at a faster rate than our coalition in Westminster is.

I see that you are quoting the Telegraph for your evidence of 200=+ supporters. Not the most pro SNP newspaper that I have found. The Herald does not say anything of the cheering http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/political-news/gay-marriage-supporters-compared-to-lemmings.19185999
It was a fringe meeting arranged by Scotland for Marriage pressure group. No doubt a large number of their non SNP supporters would be there. So can you say that those 200 attendees were true SNP supporters?

Is this not a case of anti SNP views clouding what actually happened?

Andrew said...

We're singing from the same hymnsheet on this. As for what I think of Gordon Wilson's comments, I'll leave it to your imagination.

One thing though - 200 isn't a lot. As a proportion of the party membership, it's miniscule. Secondly, as you observe we also have members who share that view (I can think of some, including former candidates who send me rather nasty tweets) and recently Russell Johnston's widow resigned from the party over this issue. It is true that the SNP are not a liberal party as we are and therefore it shouldn't be surprising if there is a range of views within their ranks. True, Wilson seems to have used offensive language to make his point, but I imagine there won't be many senior SNP figures identifying themselves with him.

What this actually shows is that momentum is firmly with the progressives. No doubt most SNP members will be embarrassed by Wilson and those who support his stance. They represent a tiny minority, and we're probably as well to leave them to their prejudices and starve them of publicity.

Andrew Brown said...

The phrase "Biologic Cul-de-Sac" reminded me of Chris Packham's comments on Pandas being in an "Evolutionary Cul-de-Sac".

I wonder if Mr Wilson thinks Pandas should be allowed to die out... perhaps he would suggest that Tian Tian and Yang Guang should pretend to be members of a more sustainable species.

tris said...

As Gerry says, it was a fringe meeting, not organised by the SNP, but by another group, who quite possibly had more than a few of their own members there.

But the SNP is a broad church and their conference is a place where many people who do not agree with the party, or the government, are free to discuss whatever they wish to.

Gordon Wilson has form on this subject. I like you deplore his views and the language he uses to make his points makes me sick. (So much so that when I saw him a few weeks ago, with his wife, in Comet, I deliberately turned away to avoid having to speak to him.)

I wouldn't make a scene in a shop with an old man, but if I'd had to speak to him, I'd have suggested to him that if he feels that his marriage in tainted by others’ behaviour then maybe Elizabeth Taylor vowing 9 times that it was "till death do they part" might have devalued his marriage... or maybe that Jordan marrying a cross-dressing cage fighter, for publicity purposes, and splitting with him after about a year when he had served his purpose of providing as many headlines as he was going to, might have tainted the word marriage, but that a union between two people who loved each other would surely not.

As for the biology bit...well that's straight from his bible.

Wilson is both old and religious. His church, like most others condemns gay marriage. Some churches condemn any kind of sexual activity that is not for the procreation of the species.

It's religion. You and I may not agree with this, but there are many people, in Scotland and across the world who do. They are entitled to their opinions, no matter how much they are in opposition to ours.

I think it is disingenuous to link this directly to the SNP. Mr Rennie may wish to stop people with opposing views to his attending the Liberal conference. Mr Salmond does not. The government has said that it will bring forward legislation to allow same sex couples to marry.

This may do it a considerable amount of harm with certain groups of the population. The fact that it is backed by the Labour party, the Liberals, the Greens and even the Conservatives will not stop it being something that the SNP brought in, and the SNP taking the rap from the Churches, the Orange order, and a large proportion of elderly people who were brought up to believe in the Bible and the fact that homosexuality was a sin. (And one which the state recognised as such by making it illegal).

Some churches have preached that what the SNP is doing is a sin. They have circulated petitions to sway the result of public consultations, and they have instructed that it against the word of god.

I’d say we, in Scotland, are making a lot more progress that the government in England which has stalled on this because the right wing of your partners just won’t have it.

Caron Lindsay said...

Tris, Nick Clegg has been very clear that there will be legislation south of the border too. I think that's something we can all be pleased about, that equal marriage will exist north & south of border.

Munguin said...

Ha ha Caron: ....“very clear”..... isn’t that the buzz phrase used by David Cameron just before he spews up a whole pile of meaningless bilge intended to be anything other than clear? I see that you are now an acolyte of his (just like your own “dear leader”) and have started to ape his phrases. That is a sincere form of flattery indeed!

Errr......was Nick not “very clear” on getting his other must haves? AV, no tuition fee rises, the mansion tax, new politics and House of Lords reform? What happened to them?

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