I’m not exaggerating when I say that same sex marriage is one of the most important, relevant human rights issues in the western world today. Not only because it’s a call for equality, and a demand for religious and spiritual acknowledgement of gay and lesbian couples, but because it’s happening almost universally. The same thing is being pushed for across half the planet. It’s a frontier.
The Scottish march, which took place last Valentine’s Day (14 February 2012), was therefore an important stage not only in our national campaign, but in the worldwide push for legalisation.
Same sex marriage has been an issue in Scottish politics for a while now. This march follows on from last year’s public consultation, which ended just before Christmas. Scottish citizens were encouraged to fill out statements to gauge the feeling towards gay marriage. They were then collected and analysed by the parliament.
There was massive support on both sides, with Amnesty taking a central role in raising awareness of the consultation and encouraging people to fill out positive response slips. The University of Edinburgh’s Amnesty group was among those putting pressure behind the campaign. In our case this meant freezing in wedding clothes during a wintry city-centre consultation collection.
We had a chance to dust off our wedding dresses and suits for the march, which was thankfully, a little warmer. Along with other human rights groups, Amnesty representatives from around Scotland met in Bristo Square for a warm up cheer before setting off down the Royal Mile. The march- complete with cross-road sit downs and a number of inspired protest-cries- ended with a rally outside the Scottish Parliament. This was important since, beyond the symbolic message of ‘reaching parliament’ there was, among the many signs and banners, a giant Valentine’s Day card to First Minister Alex Salmond, bearing the words "Roses are white, thistles are blue, we believe in equal marriage and we hope the Scottish Government will too!"
The finishing rally outside of Parliament included talks from several figureheads from around the equal marriage movement. First was Grant Costello, the Scottish Youth Parliament chairman, followed by SNP MSP Marco Biagi, Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Greens, and Marilyn Jackson, of the Humanist Society of Scotland.
But the march was just the start of our equality themed Valentine’s Day celebrations. The Amnesty Group’s Equal Love party was complete with wedding cake and marriages- carried out by our un-ordained but very talented minister-Amnesty member, Silas McGilvray.
While we’re still waiting to see how effective the march was in achieving equal marriage, it’s a big step in raising public awareness of this universal issue, and in reinforcing that support comes from a diverse group of people who won’t allow themselves to be ignored.
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