Friday, 2 December 2011

Equal Marriage

There is a lot of shouting around the Scottish National Party.

When they won a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament this year and announced their intention to have a referendum about independence in a couple of years’ time (after proposed changes to the Scotland Bill have gone through Westminster and we’ve seen how they work out), they got shouted at by everyone. Other parties, journalists, people on the internet, you name it.


All of which seemed to overlook the fact that ultimately they can only use a referendum to find out what people think. The Scottish Government do not have the authority to pass legislation on this, all they can do is head to London and say “this many people want to have a bash at going it alone.” It has to be agreed by both Westminster and the queen before it can actually happen, and good luck getting it past David ‘Autons are Cool’ Cameron.

AND, even before you get to that point there is no guarantee the people of Scotland would vote yes to independence. The SNP got voted in for a variety of reasons that didn’t necessarily have a whole lot to do with the ‘N’ part of their name. The Scottish electorate were disillusioned with Labour and the Lib Dems and retain a deep seated hatred of the Tories dating back to the 1980s; and over the past four years the SNP have done a pretty OK job of government. We’ve got a lot more libraries left open than they do down south, for instance. And better access to universities. And free prescriptions.

Even so, that doesn’t mean people will vote yes to independence, because all this has been achieved through careful management of the money allotted by the UK government. To my mind, a real test of whether independence is viable would be devolved taxation. If they managed that effectively you could probably colour me swayed.

However, that isn’t what they’re working on at the moment – the latest thing people are shouting at them about is their consultation on gay marriage.

Once again folk are shouting and screaming at Big Eck and pals about the ramifications of something which they’re so far only committed to asking people about. Apparently though, asking the people of Scotland anything at all is irresponsible and wrong.

There was a collection of opinions from some of the detractors in the Scotsman yesterday, which was an illuminating (/jaw dropping) read. According to the article Bashir Maan, a former Glasgow councillor said, “it could be the beginning of the destruction of society as we know it.”

“If there’s no family, what about society? These politicians should look forward and have some foresight – what will become of the family without the union of a man and woman?”

Because apparently if two men or two women are allowed to get married, heterosexuality will cease to exist and people will stop wanting to have children. As a straight person I can testify that the possibility of marriage is the only thing that keeps me coming back to the opposite sex… my attachment to Captain Tact has nothing to do with physical attraction, personality, hormones, or shared experience and everything to do with the fact we might one day sign a piece of paper indicating our matrimonial alliance.

AS IF, as the kids used to say in the olden days. Not that long ago getting married would have indicated I was legally his property; I like to think we've moved on. Marriage is about publicly declaring your love and commitment to one another, if you merely want to procreate you can do that without giving yourself the hassle of having to organise the biggest and most expensive party ever seen.

Still, the religious right have spoken and so has Mister Sunshine himself, Gordon Wilson. Leader of the SNP for about a hundred years before Alex Salmond, independence was very much his thing and other matters of policy were really by the by. Notably the SNP were not in power, then.

Wilson reckons that merely asking whether folk think gay marriage is OK will incense enough people in Scotland to turn out and vote an overwhelming ‘no’ in the referendum. A bit like they did when he was in charge and behaving like a veritable homophobic caricature...

If you want to actually be consulted about this, fill in the form on the Scottish Government website here before December 9th.

Come along everyone, let’s join in with the cool kids and shout at the SNP.

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