First, I would like to thank all those folks who took the time to write to me and let me know their views on the issue. An overwhelming majority of those of my constituents who have corresponded with me have said that I should vote in favour of the bill today.
I would like to read part of an email that I received. It says:
“As a gay teenager I cannot state strongly enough the impact that marriage equality would have on me personally, and the wider community. The majority of the political spectrum in Scotland stand by the principle of equality. I ask only that you adhere to it now.”
That email made me think of my teenage years. I became a teenager the year after homosexuality was decriminalised in Scotland, I was a teenager at the time of section 28 and I was a teenager at the time when some horrendous things were said about HIV being a “gay plague”. Society seemed to me to be hostile towards gay people.
At that point, I decided to play it straight, or at least to try to. I denied my sexual orientation throughout my teens and most of my 20s. I only told some of my close friends at the tail end of my 20s that I was gay. I did not tell my parents that until I was 39, which is something that I really regret and feel guilty about. I kind of slighted them, because their reaction was the same as it had always been in life—unequivocal love.
I believe in traditional marriage. I think that it has served me well in terms of the parents that I have, the grandparents that I have, and had, and my brother and sister. It has served people so well that I believe it should be extended to all people. I think that that is only right.
On religious tolerance, I have great respect for all views and I can understand why some folk have taken the stance that they have taken. However, Mr Mason talked about religious folk feeling marginalised. I think that we have to take account of folk who have felt marginalised for oh so many years, and actually get this right here today. [Applause.]
I have absolutely no malice for those who intend to vote no or abstain today, but I urge them to think of their children and grandchildren, who may well turn out to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We should give them the right to share the happiness and love and the trials and tribulations of marriage. I urge members, please, to support the bill today.