Archive for the ‘marriage equality’ Category
This week is a momentous one for Equal marriage as the legislation finally reaches the chamber at Holyrood for its first debate. It has been a long road, particularly so for those of us who have been involved in the campaign over the past few years. MSP’s on both sides of the argument will be honing their speeches and interventions and no doubt the media will be sharpening pencils and cranking up the cameras. From where I’m standing it certainly is a momentous week, and there will probably be many opinions aired, both written and spoken. Ruth and I have been involved in this campaign, and I apologise unreservedly to everyone who has had to watch me repeatedly throwing the wedding bouquet every time there is a news item on equal marriage on the television here in Scotland (and just to correct a point, we didn’t actually hold a ‘mock wedding’ as many in the media have termed it, but we did have a blessing on our marriage). We are fortunate to actually be married which was important for us and so keenly feel the pain of those who are unable to marry currently or unable or even unwilling to have to travel abroad to marry, as we did.
Most people who have travelled this journey on both sides of a very polarised debate have managed to remain respectful whilst debating robustly over their strongly held views. Some people, unfortunately, were not able to exercise such restraint and we have seen some particularly nasty individuals creep out from under the furniture whilst the consultative and legislative stages of this process have been polished up. I’m still involved in criminal and civil proceedings surrounding this (both of which are still rumbling on, and will be for sometime yet as the various processes run their respective courses in the higher courts) so I can’t comment on this at the moment. There have been some notable causalities along the way, none more so than Cardinal Archbishop Keith O’Brien (whose own homosexual advances towards other priests were uncovered) and the spokesperson of the Scottish Roman catholic Bishop’s conference, John Deighan,who rather spectacularly lost the plot, and went completely off-message whilst debating with the ever cool, calm and reasonable Tom French from the Equality Network during a television news show.
It is absolutely not ‘homophobic’ to disagree with same sex marriage, but the abusive and derogatory language used by some people and organisations during this campaign has most definitely been beyond what anyone would term, robust debate, and that has certainly been homophobic and unacceptable in a just and equal society. Free speech carries with it a responsibility to keep within the law and those who are unable to step up to such a responsibility put themselves outside of the debate, and of relevance to the arguments taking place within the law.
One thing is for sure though. The legislation itself has received a huge amount of scrutiny and the vast majority of the legal and political opinion is that it is a good bill with completely adequate protection for those faith groups who don’t wish to celebrate same-sex marriages, as well as empowering those faith groups who do wish to be able to solemnise such marriages. Freedom of religion has to cut both ways and this legislation enables this. Churches and faith groups do not carry out marriages which are against their own belief systems and this just won’t change. Roman catholic priests don’t marry divorcees do they? And you can’t marry at a Mosque if you’re not both Muslims? Priests can refuse to marry a couple without having to give a reason (although most would) as they have freedom of conscience in this respect.
One regret, for me anyway is that individual clergy will still not be able to celebrate same sex marriages and this will undoubtedly be a cause of great sadness for a significant number of Church of Scotland ministers as well as Scottish Episcopal and Roman Catholic priests. I know that any of the clergy team at our church would have been very happy to have been able to marry Ruth and I. So I suspect that many of these ministers and priests will simply opt out of doing weddings at all until their own particular faith groups change their own canon laws which currently do not allow same sex marriage.
Many people have changed their views on marriage equality as this proposed change to marriage law has progressed over the months. This is perhaps in no small part due to the excellent and respectful campaign run by the Equality Network which has concentrated on facts rather than dogma and love rather than rhetoric. Stonewall Scotland has also been involved. If you contrast these with the scare campaigns run by, amongst others, the oddly-named Scotland for Marriage then you’ll see why so many people including a huge majority of MSP’s and all the political party leaders now support full marriage equality. The consultation exercises, contrary to what some might say, indicate that a majority of the Scottish people are in favour of this change. Professor John Curtice, one of Scotland’s foremost statisticians explains how and why this is so here.
So anyway, here are six very good reasons for supporting same sex marriage for you undecided folks out there to ponder upon…
It has been a long road, with some bumps along the way, but the journey’s end is now thankfully in sight. And so if you’ve not yet watched it, here is the wonderful, touching, beautiful short film made by the Equality Network.
So yes, it is time…
Today’s Daily Record carries a story about the lack of appropriate sex education in schools. As a teacher, this is something I’ve had an interest in for many years now, and particularly through the dark years of Section 28 (Clause 2A in Scotland- I was giving evidence in a court case last week which touched on this subject).
We are failing our children by failing to get a grip on teaching sex education. We brush the issue under as many carpets as possible, and the actual teaching often ends up with staff who are just not equipped with the specialist training necessary to be able to carry out this vitally important role in learning and teaching.
I wrote about this very same subject in TESS back in 2008. I wonder, when I read things like the Record article today, have we made any progress? Is it time for a Government ‘Excellence’ group to consider a new way forward on sex and relationship education?
From today’s Scotsman.com
Scotland for Marriage, a pressure group backed by the Catholic Church and evangelical groups, has said it is “concerned that children will be taught in school sexual health education that marriage can be between two people of the same sex”.The group says same-sex marriage should be dealt with as a controversial issue like abortion, and that parents should have the right to withdraw children from lessons on the subject.
So Scotland For Marriage, fronted up until recently by Cardinal Archbishop Keith O’Brien believe that children should be taught that the marriages of some of their classmate’s parents are ‘controversial’ ? In our country ten years after the ignominious clause 2A was removed from the statute books, are these people really seriously expecting a return to these days? Do they want legislation or guidelines which will stigmatise and even humiliate children in our schools?
Individual teachers are entitled to hold their own views and opinions, but they are not and should never be entitled to use these views as an excuse to single out some of the kids in their classes because of their parents’ marriage situation. Any such teacher would almost certainly be in breach of the Standard for Full Registration, and in my view, not fit to remain a teacher. Some people are gay- Get used to it, the posters, T-shirts, and postcards say. And very soon, gay people will be allowed full marriage equality. Get used to that too.
And do Scotland for Marriage seriously expect the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Michael Russell to even consider a return to the past where equality and fairness were privileges for some rather than basic human rights for everyone? Well CARE Scotland certainly do, describing marriage between two people of the same sex as “a social experiment”. My marriage is certainly no experiment, and it was no different from any other as far as the pupils I was teaching at the time were concerned.
Kristina Woolnough, of the National Parents Forum of Scotland, said: “Most parents would expect that the personal and social aspects of education that pupils have in school reflects equality legislation, reflects differences and supports young people as they grow and develop.
To anyone in this city who would like to worship with us this week rather than worship in their own church for one Sunday then the message is clear. Everyone is welcome at St Mary’s. We don’t preach hatred. We don’t preach or teach bigotry. We stand up for the simple love of God.
So says the Very Revd. Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow, extending an invitation to all faiths and non to share our true Christian worship this Sunday, a day which the cruel cardinals and bigot bishops of the Scottish Roman Catholic Church have declared to be ‘National Marriage Sunday’.
So if you need a refuge from your usual church for a week, not wanting to hear the letter of intolerance and inequality read out by your priest from your pulpit, then why not join with us this week. Who knows…you might like us so much you stay:-)
Yesterday was Pride. A wonderful gathering in Kelvingrove park, a march through the West End, City Centre, and finishing with a festival on George square. Positive reactions all the way, nothing negative at all except perhaps the Rainbow Flag wasn’t flying from the City Chambers this year). I chaired Pride Scotland back in 2001/2002 and so i know what a huge chunk of your life it takes to organise such an event. This year of course, one of the main focuses was on Equal marriage and as Ruth and I had done our bit earlier in the week we were able to take a bit of a back seat and just march, chat, wander about and generally enjoy the event. I bumped into several ex-pupils from my old school, Cathkin High and it was great to hear their stories, and even greater to hear how me being an out, openly gay teacher had made their own lives just that little bit easier. Maybe my time as a teacher at Cathkin wasn’t all wasted then! Anyway, it made me think back to when I was coming to terms with my own sexuality in the mid to late 70′s. Things were very different then if you were LGBT. You’d never have admitted it at school, thats for sure. It really was a different world back then and looking around George Square yesterday at all the young people, teenagers, even those in their twenties, I reflected on just how they were taking it all for granted; the freedom to be just who they are without fear of violence from peers, colleagues and especially, the police (who had their Strathclyde lesbian and Gay association officers out proudly marching in the parade in big numbers this year). I know we still have a long way to go on homophobic bullying in schools, as Stonewall Scotland pointed out earlier this week, but we’ve come a long way since I was a kid. As was brought home to me when I watched this video from back then…
A change in plans for us. Our marriage requires a religious as wells a civil divorce for Ruth. Jewish marriages are dissolved during a sitting of the Beth Din. This is the Jewish religious court. The process dates back centuries and has to be done in a very particular way. Her marriage was to have been dissolved before we travelled to South Africa to marry, but due to her ex having a hip replacement, the religious divorce now won’t be finalised until later in the year, possibly October or November. So what do we do? Everything is booked and paid for. But until the procedure at the Scottish Beth Din we won’t be actually married, and so whilst we can celebrate the first part of our marriage in South Africa ( Erusin) we can’t consummate or complete the second part of the marriage ( or Nissuin) until the religious divorce is granted by the Beth Din at the Synagogue later in the year. In other words, we won’t be completely married until then… In fact, to quote Wikipedia…
“For legal purposes, a betrothed couple is regarded as husband and wife (or wife and wife in our situation). Similarly, the union can only be ended by the same divorce process as for married couples. However, betrothal does not oblige the couple to behave towards each other in the manner that a married couple is required to, nor does it permit the couple to have a sexual relationship with each other”
For those of our friends who are feeling a little confused the full explanation is here
Now I know some folks may say this is archaic. That the civil divorce is all we need. But it’s important to us. We’ve booked and paid or our trip to South Africa and for the Erusin ceremony. The fact that we will have to wait until later in the year to complete the Nissuin is just something we will have to accept, as is living apart until we are able to complete the Nissuin..
But hey, that’s life, and at least we’ve a wonderful trip to Africa to look forward to, meeting family and seeing a bit of the country. Its too late to cancel and reschedule the ceremony for after Erusin and far too expensive to just rebook so we’l have a bit of a gap between the two stages of our marriage because its important to us that the religious divorce and remarriage are done properly. And all because of a hip replacement operation!