23:49 | 25th April 2019

News: UK

Tue 9 Mar, 2010
By Danielle Carter

I'm a gay person of faith, who was denied the right to be married in church.

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LESBIAN MSP Margaret Smith is urging the Scottish Government to follow the House of Lords' lead and back civil partnership ceremonies in churches.

Peers voted last week to lift the ban on formalising same-sex partnerships on religious premises – but the move will not apply in Scotland unless Holyrood agrees.

Now Ms Smith, Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh West, has written to community safety minister Fergus Ewing, pressing the case.

She warned if Scotland refuses to allow such ceremonies while they become legal in England, it could lead to a "reverse Gretna" effect with gay couples crossing the Border to tie the knot, resulting in a loss of revenue to Scotland's hospitality industry.

However, Ms Smith also wants to go further and give same-sex couples the right to marry.

She said the day she entered into a civil partnership with her partner Suzanne had been "the most incredible day of my life".

She added: "I'm a gay person of faith, who was denied the right to be married in church.

"The complete lack of access to state-sanctioned marriage for gay people is a question of discrimination and of inequality."

She said civil partnerships had been "incredibly successful".

"They are far more popular and successful than the government ever thought. They gave gay couples the same next of kin, taxation and inheritance rights as married couples," she said.

But she told the Lib Dem conference in Perth there was "no true equality" as same-sex couples still could not get married. She said: "I have never understood the argument that gay couples wanting to get married undermines marriage – it celebrates marriage.

"Our relationships aren't inferior, gay people aren't second-class citizens. But that is exactly how we are treated under the current marriage legislation."

Another delegate, Richard Coxon, from Edinburgh Central, held up his wedding certificate as he told the conference how he had travelled to Belgium to marry his male partner.

He said: "Belgium gave us this – it is our marriage certificate. We are not partners, we are not unioned, we are married."

Mr Coxon said the ban on gay marriages was "a discrimination that needs to end".

The conference endorsed a motion calling on the Scottish Government to open up marriage to same-sex couples.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The amendments passed in the Lords do not extend to Scotland. However, same-sex couples can register civil partnerships in Scotland and obtain similar rights and responsibilities as married couples."

Source: New Scotsman


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