Further to my post of early January, cataloguing the views of Ruth Davidson, Patrick Harvie and
Anne McTaggart the Labour Party on same sex marriage, I have since received a couple of additional responses from Glaswegian MSPs. Still nowt from Nicola Sturgeon, Hanzala Malik (Labour) or Bob Doris (SNP). First up, Labour's Drew Smith (one of the tender little fellows, accidentally elected after Labour's unforeseen Glasgow-gubbing in May). In stark contrast with the chary huffing and puffing of the "suggested response" drafted by Jackie Baillie for Labour MSPs unable to compose their own opinions, never mind their own correspondence, Drew's reply has the virtue of frankness:
Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding same-sex marriage in Scotland.
I am proud of the Labour Party’s strong record on LGBT equality issues. In our 2011 election manifesto, Scottish Labour pledged to consult on equalising marriage rights for all, with a view to introducing a bill on marriage equality. I therefore welcomed the initiative of the Scottish Government in consulting on the issue towards the end of last year.
I added my name in support of the amendment in the name of Patrick Harvie MSP to the motion on this subject which was lodged by John Mason MSP, and I have copied both below for your information. You will be aware that there has been some fear amongst religious groups that equalising marriage rights would impact upon their religious freedoms and I would therefore support the rights of faith bodies to either allow or disallow religious marriage ceremonies to take place in accordance with their own beliefs.
There are some other elements of change which also need to be considered such as how we achieve and ensure equality for transgender people and a further argument has been made that civil partnerships should be extended to heterosexual couple, which I am also sympathetic to. Now that consultation has ended, the position that I take will be informed by the views which have been expressed.
In summary, I do support marriage equality and I would like to see the SNP government bring forward measures to obtain it speedily. Thanks once again for taking the time to raise this important issue with me.
Drew Smith MSP
After the delaying intervention of digital gremlins making mischief in the Scottish Parliament's web vaults, the SNP's Humza Yousaf sent me the following rather circumspect, rather less direct, epistle...
Thank you for your email concerning the Scottish Government’s consultation “The Registration of Civil Partnerships: Same Sex Marriage”
I appreciate the range of views on this important matter and it is clear that you are passionate about this issue. It is important at this point to stress that the now the consultation has closed the Government will take a view on how to proceed and a further consultation will ensue.
As an elected member I am keen to hear as wide a range of views as possible from those I represent. As a result I have met with various faith groups and equality groups such as Stonewall Scotland.
Ministers have said they tend towards the view that same sex marriage should be introduced with the recognition that for religious reasons some faith groups may not want to solemnise same sex marriages, and should not be obliged to do so. I think those safeguards are important for faith organisation be they Churches, Synagogues or Mosques. However, I am also a passionate believer in religious freedom, which of course cuts both ways. Just as those faith groups who do not want to conduct same sex marriages should have the freedom not to do so, I do not believe that should be at the expense of those who wish to conduct such ceremonies
Once again thank you for getting in touch.
Humza Yousaf MSP
MSP for Glasgow