William Bain: Democracy wins in fight for same-sex marriage
NEXT Sunday marks the second anniversary of Argentina, with its strong historic cultural links with Catholicism, introducing laws to allow same-sex couples to get married. It’s a mark of the success of this reform that 6,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot since then.
In Buenos Aires, as in Madrid, Brussels, Reykjavik, Johannesburg, Ottawa, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Mexico City, Stockholm, Oslo and most recently Copenhagen, for those who believe in marriage, it has been strengthened as a social institution through greater equality.
It’s not often these days that there is agreement between left and right in Scottish politics. But it is testimony to the strength of the consensus brought together by the Equal Marriage campaign that Scotland is likely to be the 12th nation, and the first part of the United Kingdom, to legislate for same-sex marriage.
A total of 74 MSPs have declared their public support for equalising marriage laws, which provides a clear majority. This political majority is strongly backed up by public opinion, including rank and file members of the religious and faith community.
There will be full scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s draft bill, including by parliamentary committees, which will allow expert evidence and the views of civic society, including those in the faith community, to be considered, prior to the bill going before the full parliament for debate.
Changing the law in this way, as with every other social and economic issue, shows that while it is not perfect, representative democracy works.
As a House of Lords Constitution Committee report in 2009 found, given our system of government, referendums are best restricted to intractable constitutional questions like a change in our relationship with the EU, the electoral system for parliament, and reforming the second chamber.
The end result of the political process is pretty clear – Scotland will make marriage, and civil partnerships, open to all couples who wish to make a public commitment of their love, whatever their sexuality.
• William Bain is Labour MP for Glasgow North East.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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