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The issue of equal marriage is a no-brainer

With the Government's consultation on same-sex marriage due to close on Friday, teenager Andrew Deans explains why he is campaigning for a change in the law.

The rights of one group of society are incredibly important, but the campaign for equal marriage is about much more than that. For Scotland’s young people, this is about creating the country we want to grow up and live in. That country is a country characterised by fairness and equality, of which same-sex marriage is but one aspect.

 

Those who claim that young people have lost interest in politics might have hit upon something. Undoubtedly, the turnout amongst young people in recent elections has been disappointing, but that is far from the end of the story.

Young people have been at the forefront of the campaign for marriage equality, with us in the Scottish Youth Parliament working alongside LGBT Youth Scotland, NUS Scotland and the Equality Network towards this common goal.

And young people have been speaking out in their thousands. I can vouch for the young people I have spoken to on how receptive this generation are to questions of equality. Tell them you want them to respond to a Scottish Government consultation and it provokes little response; tell them it’s about same-sex marriage, and something switches on. Young people might not vote in their droves, but when it is an issue they care about, they are very interested in politics indeed.

The sheer number of responses is testament to how important this type of issue is to us. I do not know whether it comes from an inherent sense of fairness and justice or whether society is simply changing for the better, but the issue of equal marriage is a no-brainer.

If some of my friends are allowed to marry the people they love and some of my friends are not, that is not fair. ‘Love Equally’, the name of the Scottish Youth Parliament's national campaign, captures it perfectly. There is no fundamental difference in the love between one man and one woman, or two men, or two women. Why should we create or allow to continue a fundamental difference in how they can express that love?

In light of that simple questions, the opponents of equality have had no option but to try to complicate the issue. Since civil partnerships were introduced&rdquo, say campaigners against, there have been 175,000 marriages and just 3,300 civil partnerships.

It's true that the majority of the population are heterosexual, but withholding rights from a minority purely because they are a minority is not a strong argument.

Bizarrely, the argument that the State should not or even cannot redefine marriage has been tabled. This seems to stem from some sort of misconception that the concept of marriage belongs to Christian churches, despite the existence of marriages in ancient societies as old as recorded history.

Leaving that aside, it is abundantly clear that marriage is now a legal contract as well as a social union, and the State has every power to decide who can and cannot engage in it.

Beneath the claim that campaigners against same-sex marriage are 'on the side of Scotland's people' lies the truth: even in 2006, 61% of the population supported the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Ours is a campaign spearheaded by young people, a truly welcome sight, but it is a campaign supported by people of all ages, from all backgrounds, who have that inherent sense of fairness and believe in an equal Scotland.

If, as I sincerely hope, the Scottish Government stick to their guns in the face of the well-funded but poorly supported opposition, and introduce the legislation to implement this historic change, it will be interesting to look back in half a century.

This is because, like many of the extensions of human rights that Scotland and indeed the world has seen over the centuries, we will look back and wonder: “how could people oppose that?

People opposed the abolition of slavery, people opposed equality amongst races, people opposed the equality of women. There will always be groups to oppose change, but equality, fairness and justice always have, and always will, win through in the end. I am proud to be on the right side of equality in this case.

Andrew Deans represents Angus North and Mearns as a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament. The 18-year-old studies law at Glasgow University and has been at the forefront of several SYP campaigns, including the drive to ban the Mosquito Device - a security tool which emits high pitched sounds which are normally only heard only by younger people.

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