If two people love each other, should they should be able to get married? It seems an obvious enough answer and the majority of the public would immediately answer ‘yes, of course they should’.
But what if that couple were both men or both women? Surely the love between two people is just as valid, regardless of their gender. It is their own, deeply personal relationship and who are we to call the validity of it into question?
Conversely, what if a ‘straight’ couple decide to confirm their relationship together legally but do not want the religious or traditional connotations of a marriage ceremony? Surely marriage should not be the only option. There should be no pressure to conform, no feeling that marriage is the ‘normal’ thing for a heterosexual couple to do, especially when other options exist.
Currently in Scotland and indeed across the UK, it is illegal for a same-sex couple to marry or for a heterosexual couple to get a civil partnership. Civil partnership ceremonies are specifically forbidden in law, from having any religious aspect what so ever. This means that if a church, or any other religious organisation wishes to conduct a civil partnership ceremony they are not able to do so. It is simply illegal.
This creates a divide between gay and straight couples where none actually exist. Amnesty International has always summed it up best with ‘Love is a Human Right’ and yet Scottish law still seem to value homosexual and heterosexual love differently.
Last week, the Scottish Youth Parliament (of which I am a member, in a separate capacity to my Green blogging habits) launched its national campaign, Love Equally. This campaign is not for some grand change to the structure of our society or for some great legislative upheaval. It is, purely and simply for equality. Why can’t a gay couple get married, in a church? Why can’t a straight couple get a civil partnership and be rid of any unwanted connotations that marriage brings?
The campaign has not been without its critics, with John Mason MSP (Glasgow Shettleston) lodging a motion that clumsily attempts to address an issue that long ago reached consensus. He wants reassurance that those who do not wish to take part in a same-sex ceremony would not be ‘forced’ to do so. If he had bothered to have a look at the SYP’s Love Equally statement he would have seen the demand that no organisation would be forced to take part in any same-sex ceremony. No-one, on any side of the debate is asking for people to violate their own personal moral or religious beliefs.
It was fantastic to see Alison Johnstone on Newsnight this week praising the Scottish Youth Parliament and taking John Mason head on regarding his ‘nasty little anti-gay marriage motion’ (the words of a party colleague and MP) and the cross part support for Patrick Harvie’s amendment to the motion has been most heartening.
This campaign isn’t about party politics, whether they are Green or yellow or red. This is about equality for everyone, equality in love because love IS a human right.