I was leafing my way through my beloved London Times snoozepaper (OK, I know it's owned by the Dirty Digger, but better that than the Pornmeister in Chief of the Daily Excess!) when I began to chew over their comments on the introduction of the Same Sex Marriage Legislation in the Holyrood Palais de Comedie.
They first posit that Our Glorious Leader, Chairman Eck risks "infuriating the Churches" with this. Well, he'll certainly annoy the RC hierarchy in Scotland - all 3 of them currently in office and not sick, retired very smartly at 75 or currently off praying in a monastic institution somewhere in Europe. Aberdeen, Argyll and Glasgow are the only 3 sees operating on full power at the moment. Given that an awful lot of laity seem to ignore Catholic teaching on contraception, I suspect most ain't too bothered about what LGBT's do re marriage. Will he annoy the Kirk or only the 10 congregations talking of leaving out of a total of 1400? OK, he'll really annoy the Wee Frees. But then again, nearly everyone seems to do that. And the Piskies? We're really difficult to annoy. And we're playing moderate to canny in public. Officially we seem to say that Canon law does not permit SSM's to be celebrated in Church. Which is true. It also glosses over the fact that it is fairly easy to change Canon Law and we could fairly quickly reposition ourselves in the event of the Civil Law changing.
The commentary by a former editor of the Scotsman slightly baffled me. "In the modern era it has long been accepted that gay couples have the same civil rights as heterosexuals when it comes to forming partnerships". Really? Assuming the modern era started in 1960 (when sex was first discovered by the general public), then it was 1967 when making love ceased to be a jail sentence if you were a male aged over 21 and some 30 years later when the age of consent was finally equalised. In Scotland, male homosexual acts (or bonking as we used to call it) even in private between consenting adults were totally illegal until 1981 (1982 in Northern Ireland). The age of consent only equalised in 2001. In 1990 I wrote a paper with 2 colleagues arguing for the legal recognition of Same Sex Relationships at the request of the then Convener of the Scottish Young Liberal Democrats. I was the Vice Convener (no pun intended). Willie is now the Supreme Leader of the Scottish Lib Dems (I had a coffee with him at Holyrood a wee while ago). One of my co-authors is now dead and the other is happily Civilly Partnered to the Chief Exec of Manchester Pride! The fact that we were still having to argue for legal recognition of any form in 1990 - a mere 23 years ago suggests that LGBT couples have only been seen as having the same civil rights as the rest of the populace for a very short period of time by a good many people. Civil partnerships are less than 10 years old.
The fact is we've come a very long way in a relatively short period of time. It can feel that the current climate of relatively positive attitudes towards LGBT people has been there forever. It hasn't. Indeed, in may less enlightened and socially progressive corners it is still a long way off. But I suspect the momentum that has now built up is irresistible and the opposition of the least progressive elements of the Churches will in due course be overcome. After all, some bits of the Church were very slow to follow Wilberforce on abolishing slavery. But we all now celebrate him as a hero.