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."