Holyrood Passes Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill

Hello once again, it’s been a long week but worth it. The kids at the primary school we visited absolutely loved our shows and were perhaps more keen than some professional astronomers I have seen to learn more about outer space. I think we may have made some astrophysicists and perhaps even an astrobiologist or two. It really is great seeing kids getting so into science at such an early age.

LGBT rights group Stonewall’s campaign for equal marriage received high praise in the chamber this evening.

The eagerness of the kids was quite a way away from our session at the observatory this afternoon. Solar observations really don’t work too well in Scotland, and we got a real sense of that today as we were rained off, leaving us with only one decent image of the sun and no usable flat field images through the telescope. Still, there is plenty of time yet, so fingers crossed that the weather can stay onside for at least one of the next seven weeks.

However, today was not all gloomy, as you can maybe see by the title. I got home from the lab, and out of the rain I might add, just in time to catch the closing few speeches of the debate on the Marriage and Civil Partnership bill in the Scottish Parliament this evening. It was quite a wonderful debate to watch, as the overwhelming support of the bill in the chamber really spoke volumes about the progressive nature of Scottish politicians across all parties.

Many members spoke of personal experiences, of friends and family members, of the attitudes of the past and those of today. Yes, there were a number of members opposed to the bill, some on religious grounds, but the majority of the chamber spoke out in a resounding chorus of acceptance.

The bill passed through its first stages back in November by a resounding majority before moving to the committee stages for further scrutiny and debate. This evening it entered the chamber for its final reading and vote, and across the chamber party barriers were dissolved. Members from different parties congratulated members from other parties on their actions, campaigning and their speeches, Jackie Baillie (Lab) even complimenting Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil (SNP), a moment, even she said, “he should savour”.

Even members of the Conservative party who had not offered their support to the introduction of civil partnerships, back in 2004, stood today behind the bill legalising same sex marriages. It just goes to show how far Scotland as a country and as a people have come in 10 years. In fact, for a country that only decriminalised homosexuality in 1980, we have come an exceptionally long way in terms of equality. At just after half past six, the bill was passed by a clear majority of 105 for to just 18 against.

Today really has seen a land mark decision made in the name of equality, as Scotland becomes the 17th country in the world to legalise same sex marriage. I know that we are a long way from true equality in this country; discrimination still exists in many places, support can sometimes be hard to find, and education on the subject is far from comprehensive. However, today has definitely seen a real landmark passed, and today truly is a day for celebration, a day that I can quite sincerely say that I am proud to be Scottish.

Thanks for reading.

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