The passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2013 means registry offices and religious organizations will be able to marry two people of the same sex. Religious organizations must opt in to be able to do this while the Church of England will be banned from doing so altogether. We can predict that nearly all religious organizations (except e.g. The Society of Friends) will NOT opt in.
So, in reality, this bill gives gay people the right to marry in a small state-approved registry office by a registrar with only a few guests. Thus gay people will be unlikely to be able to have the large “big day”-style ceremony so popular with people today because the religious organizations which provide these will just refuse to marry them.
That is one of the reasons it is so important to support the campaign for Humanists celebrants in England/Wales to be able to officiate at marriage ceremonies - as they are able to in Scotland. This gives irreligious people the same right as the religious to a personal marriage ceremony which isn’t just a legalistic act run by the council. It hence also gives gay people the (practical) right to an actual marriage ceremony they control.
Personally I don’t like the idea of the state sanctioning and sponsoring certain relationship choices over others. However, so long as people want to get married, then I believe they should have the right to marry who they want, in a ceremony under their own control - and not controlled by the wishes of a priest or a registrar, of the Church or State. That is why it is so important to support the equal marriage campaign for humanism - it is inextricably linked to that of same sex marriage, because without humanist marriage, in practical terms, gay people will have no choice but to marry in an official state-chosen setting such as a registry office. The bill passed this week provides for a review into humanist marriage - it needs to be supported.
(NOTE: When people have humanist ceremonies in England/Wales at the moment, they aren’t actually having a marriage ceremony. They have already had to go to the registry office to get married by the registrar. The humanist ceremony is just a celebration. Humanist marriage means the celebrant marries the couple, without any need for a servant of the state or church.)
The 2011 Scottish Census was released today. The Western Isles population increased by ~1500, a 5.6% rise. The Highland population increased by ~23,000, an 11% rise. Compare this to the 4.6% rise recorded for Scotland as a whole, and you get a crude indication that the image of a dying periphery isn’t as accurate as the naysayers would hope.
Sure, Gaelic is only spoken by a little less than 2% of the Scottish population, but as we actually do amount to 2% of the population, one would think we’d at least get 2% of said budget, rather than the 0.07% of it that we’re currently getting.
People always complain about Gaelic Medium Education and how our children are getting more money than other children; this, however, is far from the truth. Each year the government invests £1385 in every child in GME - i.e. a child who gets their education through the medium of Scottish Gaelic - whereas non-GME schools get £3556 per child and year to spend on their education.
The SNP has said that it plans on changing this, but I remain highly unconvinced as to whether or not this is something they will really try to change, as they won’t even bother putting a Gaelic translation on our upcoming independence referendum answer sheets as ‘it’d cost to much’.
Sometimes I feel like Gaelic is little more than a way for the government to attract tourists to our country (ceilidhs!stunning islands!kilts!bagpipes!capercaillie!julie fowlis!) while they’re actively making sure that people who want to use their language as something more than a tourist gimmick are completely ignored …
The money Dr Alasdair Allan is spending in his new post as Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages on forcing an obligatory Scottish text on every Higher English pupil (just after we all having been forced to study a Scottish topic in history), and on inventing some daft new course called ‘Scottish Studies’, would be better spent on making it more rewarding for young Gaels to go into teaching as opposed to the media, or on supporting Gaidhlig classes throughout the country, or maybe on giving important companies in his own constituency the right to benefit from RET…
A long sentence I know, but a proper commitment from the Scottish government on improving the status of Gaidhlig has to be explicity tied into improving the Western Isles economy. Our last gaidhealtachd will die between being denied fishing rights in our own waters and having our only forward-looking industry (namely, Arnish renewable technologies) gathering dust despite the Scots gov’s supposed desire to become green!
Turning Gaidhlig into a toy language to be studied (i.e. learning ‘ciamar a tha thu’) as part of some vapid Scottish studies Int 2 course is the road to extinction. Isn’t the SNP’s attempts to Scottishize the curriculum reminscent of Michael Gove’s attempts in England to turn History GSCSE into ‘Our-National-Story Indoctrinating’ class…
…I love Scotland, I’ll vote YES in the referendum, but the way the SNP gov is treating Gaidhlig and the Western Isles makes me worry we’ll be worse off post indepedence…