Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, the Scottish campaign for marriage equality, thinks Scotland could make marriage equality lawful by the end of next year. Scotland has already completed its public consultation and has bolder plans for change. Meanwhile the consultation on marriage equality for lesbians, bisexuals and gay men and transgender people in England and Wales doesn’t end until mid June. Scotland plans to move more boldly: it plans to allow churches and other faith groups to be able to celebrate LGBT weddings if they choose to offer these. The coalition government for England and Wales has set its face against any such freedom of religion.
On the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme on Sunday, the Conservative Defence Secretary, Phillip Hammond, said marriage equality was “clearly not the number one priority” in England and Wales, because it was not included in the Queen’s Speech plans for new laws this session of Parliament. This is hardly surprising when the public consultation doesn’t end until 14th June. However the coalition Equalities Minister has reassured campaigners in England and Wales that the government is still firmly behind the proposals for marriage equality.
Scotland takes the marriage equality lead
GayStarNews has just published a major feature on the lead Scotland is taking on marriage equality. Scotland’s lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender marriage proposals are ahead of England and Wales in several ways, most especially because Scotland plans to allow religious ceremonies to be offered by any faith-based organisations which chooses this, while faiths that disagree won’t be forced to provide LGBT weddings. Scottish same-sex marriage campaigners are therefore calling on the Scottish government to show it means what it says now, and lead the way on marriage equality for the UK.
If Scotland does what it plans and allows churches and faiths to offer LGBT marriages, that would make it harder for Westminster to prevent faiths in England and Wales from offering this.