Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 20th November 2013.

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Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

I could not agree more. Jim Eadie, like Bob Doris, set out—in a very powerful speech—how the bill will expand freedom for belief organisations that want to marry same-sex couples, and how it will strengthen marriage. I agree completely with Bob Doris, which must be a first for him.

Drew Smith and Patrick Harvie spoke about repealing section 28 and our pride in doing so; I thank Drew for making me feel old and reminding me that he was at school then. He is right to remember that the repeal of section 28 was not without consequences—often serious—for members of the LGBT community, as they had to deal with some of the hysteria and homophobic bullying that surrounded it. We need to ensure that that does not happen again.

James Dornan mentioned the bill’s ability to strengthen marriage and spoke about the experience of his brother Michael; we all look forward to receiving our invitations to the wedding in Lisbon, now that we know about it.

The debate has been extraordinarily interesting. Elaine Murray and Patrick Harvie remarked on how extraordinary it was that there was agreement across the chamber—indeed, Patrick noted that it was probably the first time that he has applauded Ruth Davidson with such enthusiasm. That may well be true for many of us. It is not often that I find myself in complete agreement with Alex Neil and Mark McDonald—and even, for goodness’ sake, Kevin Stewart; it must be a truly historic day.

Elaine Murray was right to remind us about the glorious diversity of human beings, even those whom she described as being vertically challenged. We are all different, and that is what makes us all so interesting. Whatever that difference is, we should be tolerant of one another, but we should respect and celebrate our difference, because that is the tapestry of our nation.

For me, and for many members on all sides of the chamber, the legislation is about equality, fairness, social justice and values that I believe we all share. I know that some may be hesitating tonight, but I ask them to think for a moment. What if your son or daughter is unsure about their sexuality? What if they have a same-sex partner? Do you really want to deny them the opportunity to marry? I hope not.

I urge all members to support the general principles of the bill to ensure that the next generation can marry the person they love.