This week, a bill will be brought before the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood that will propose the ending of marriage inequality in Scotland. It will propose that two people who love each other should be entitled to have their love recognised in a way that is recognised by our society, irrespective of their genders. It will propose that same-sex couples should be treated as equal under the law with opposite-sex couples. It will propose that we bring to an end our shameful history of believing that LGBT individuals are less human than straight individuals, and our shameful history of enshrining that prejudice into the laws of our land.
I was in Holyrood on the fateful afternoon in 2008 when the petition to consider this legislation was first brought to Parliament. I was at Pride on the day a few weeks later when the White Knot campaign for marriage equality was launched. I have been part of this for five years and then some.
But the truth is that I never really expected anything to come of it. There are some fights that are worth fighting even if you don’t win — sometimes, even if you expect to lose. This was one of them.
In the early summer of 2008 when I went to Holyrood with that petition, same-sex marriage was recognised in five countries in the world and in two states of the United States. Proposition 8 was on the table in California, and, five months later, that number had reduced to five countries and one state. Today, same-sex marriage is legal in thirteen countries, twelve states, three tribal jurisdictions, and the District of Columbia in the United States, and parts of Mexico. There is legislation making its way through the governing bodies of eight other countries and the United States Supreme Court is planning to rule on whether statewide bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The world has changed in five years. The world is better, and it’s better because a lot of people of whom I am very proud have worked very hard to make it so. This fight is a fight that isn’t just worth fighting anymore, it’s worth winning.
And when I tell this story in fifty years, when I tell children about this great civil rights movement of the twenty first century, one of the things I plan to tell them is that Scotland was on the right side of history.