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Kate Forbes Equal Marriage Opposition Loses Her Support Of Scottish Ministers

3 min read

Kate Forbes’ campaign for the SNP leadership has been dealt a significant blow after a number of Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) withdrew their endorsement following comments she made on same-sex marriage.

Forbes, who launched her campaign yesterday, said in an interview that she would not have voted for legislation to allow marriage for gay couples had she been an MSP in 2014.

Following her comments, SNP ministers including Richard Lochhead and Tom Arthur said they could not longer support her candidacy to replace Nicola Sturgeon as both leader of the party and first minister.

"Equal marriage is amongst our Parliament's greatest achievements and one that I would have been proud to vote for had I been an MSP when it was passed," Arthur, the SNP MSP for Renfrewshire South and minister for public finance wrote on Twitter. 

"Consequently, I am unable to continue to support Kate's campaign."

Lochhead, the SNP MSP for Moray. SG Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work said he had initially welcomed Forbes' decision to run for the leadership but her views on equal marriage had changed his position. 

"I agree we can’t have a Party Leader who’d vote against same sex marriage," he wrote on twitter. 

Claire Haughey, minister for children and young people, tweeted: “I absolutely and completely support equal marriage. I am unequivocal on this issue. I cannot continue to support Kate’s leadership campaign.”

But despite the opposition, Forbes has doubled down on her stance, and said she believed that the the party's broad membership would welcome a diversity of opinion among leadership contenders. 

"I think the public are longing for politicians to answer straight questions with straight answers and that's certainly what I tried to do in the media yesterday. That doesn't necessarily allow for much nuance," she told BBC Radio 4 this morning. 

While she said she would have no intention of reducing equal marriage rights as leader, she stood by her view in opposing it. 

"My position on these matters is I will defend to the hilt everybody's right in a pluralistic and tolerant society to live and to love free of harassment and fear," Forbed continued. 

"And in the same way I hope that others can be afforded the rights of people of faith to practice fairly mainstream teaching. And that is the nuance that we need to capture on equal marriage.

"Equal marriages is a legal right, and as a servant of democracy, rather than a dictator, I absolutely respect and defend that democratic right."

While Forbes was not an MSP when equal marriage was made legal in 2014, she reiterated comments made to The Scotsman on Monday that she would not have voted in favour of it had she been. 

“As a question of conscience, I would have voted alongside Christian teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman," she said.

"But equal marriage is a legal right today. I am a servant of democracy and not a dictator, and I would respect and defend that democratic choice.”

 

A version of this article originally appeared on Holyrood

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