I welcome the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Equal Opportunities Committee, following our stage 1 report on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill.
Before I introduce the report and speak about our conclusions, I extend my thanks to the clerks, all my committee colleagues and the members of the other committees that considered the bill—the Finance Committee and the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee. I also thank everyone who responded to our call for written evidence and all those who took part in oral evidence sessions in September and October. All of us on the committee recognise the validity, strength and sincerity of the views that we received on this clearly emotive issue. I am personally grateful for the sensitive and respectful way in which those views were presented by witnesses and then considered by committee members. I hope that the wider debate about same-sex marriage will proceed in the same dignified way.
The committee noted the differing views that were expressed in evidence on the meaning and purpose of marriage. We considered evidence from faith groups and from LGBT people on the perceptions and understanding of marriage, and we heard from a number of witnesses about rights-based arguments and social attitudes.