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Behind the scenes: the equal marriage campaign

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The equal marriage campaign sought to lift the ban on same-sex marriage in Scotland.

The campaign urged MSPs to bring in legislation to allow same-sex couples to get married, change the law to allow mixed-sex couples to register a civil partnership, and allow faith and belief groups to conduct religious same-sex marriages and civil partnerships. Earlier this month, the Scottish Parliament passed the equal marriage bill, an historic victory against homophobia.

Who was behind it?

The Equality Network / Scottish Transgender Alliance launched the equal marriage campaign in 2008. Many organisations partnered in this campaign, including LGBT Youth Scotland, Stonewall Scotland, Scottish Youth Parliament, NUS Scotland, Humanist Society Scotland, religious groups including the Quakers, Unitarians and others, trade unions, equality groups and many others.

I think if people love each other, they should be able to get married to express that love

Campaign budget

Around £30,000


To enable couples to marry, or to register a civil partnership, regardless of their genders and gender identities.

Big backer

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “I think if people love each other, they should be able to get married to express that love, and that should be regardless of gender.”

Mountains climbed

The campaign started with a mailing list of 1,000 people and a budget of a couple of thousand, but thanks to people’s incredible support we were able to grow that to 25,000 people and £30,000

Signs of success

The marriage and civil partnership (Scotland) bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 4 February by 105 votes to 18, the third strongest majority for same-sex marriage amongst the legislatures around the world. During its parliamentary progress, the bill was amended significantly to ensure that it delivers marriage equality for transgender and intersex people. There is still unfinished business for this campaign: the Scottish Government will consult on the future of civil partnership over the next year, to consider whether it should be opened up to mixed-sex couples.

Top tips

Ensure you build an effective coalition of organisations and people; be expert; be ambitious; and present your case in an effective and positive way.

The brains

Equality Network / Scottish Transgender Alliance staff and volunteers all contributed to the campaign, including Tom French who made the case for equal marriage to policy-makers, in the media and social media, through our network of 25,000 supporters, and via a range of publicity events. James Morton and Nathan Gale prepared the amendments to the legislation and briefed MSPs. And of course staff, volunteers and members of partner organisations all made a difference too.