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The damage Kate Forbes anti-gay marriage remarks did show how far we've come

The damage Kate Forbes anti-gay marriage remarks did show how far we've come

Matilda Davies
Matilda Davies
Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay queer disabled - A note from me:
TL;DR: Scottish first minister candidate Kate Forbes revealed she believes marriage is only between a man and a woman. The damage it caused to her campaign is proof of how far we’ve come.

A week is a long time in politics, as the saying goes. This adage proved particularly true for Kate Forbes this week, whose campaign to replace Nicola Sturgeon as first minister of Scotland quickly became a rollercoaster.

Here’s what happened, day by day.

Monday: From "unifier" to "dinosaur"

Finance minister Kate Forbes launched her bid to become Scotland’s first minister, calling herself a “unifier” - Twitter

Endorsements flooded in for her leadership from big-name MPs and MSPs, including children’s minister Clare Haughey, Scotland minister Richard Lochhead, and MPs Drew Hendry and Pete Wishart - The National

In her first interview since launching the campaign, Forbes said she had “significant concerns” about gender self-ID and would have voted against the bill had she not been on maternity leave - BBC

In a second interview that afternoon, she responded to a question about her stance on same-sex marriage: “I would have voted, as a matter of conscience, along the lines of mainstream teaching in most major religions that marriage is between a man and a woman” - The Scotsman

By that evening, MSPs were already withdrawing their support for Forbes, with some calling her a "dinosaur" for her views. A senior member of her campaign said: “She has f***ed it” - The Scotsman

Tuesday: Kate Forbes defends her stance

In an unfortunate choice of words, Forbes defended her earlier statement, saying voters were “longing for a politician to answer straight questions with straight answers” - The Guardian

In an interview with ITV, she repeated the dog whistle: “I believe a trans woman is a biological male” - ITV

Then, in an interview with Sky News, she added: “My faith would say that children and sex is for marriage” - Sky News

Wednesday: We all need a day off

Forbes’ campaign team said she had taken the day off but would “not quit” the race - Scottish Sun

Thursday: Kate Forbes apologises for gay marriage remarks

Forbes officially apologised, saying she felt “greatly burdened” that her comments had “caused hurt to friends, colleagues and fellow citizens”.

Nicola Sturgeon, who criticised Forbes's views, said the candidates vying for the first minister role should “expect scrutiny of their views” - Daily Record

Friday: The media asks, was it all worth it anyway?

Despite it looking like she might not get the votes, she did make it onto the ballot.

However, what followed was a slew of media takes suggesting it had been a 'useful exercise' for the country. They argued that it had sparked a good debate over whether her views, which an overwhelming minority hold, “should bar you from high office.” - Sky News


Kate Forbes’ 'trainwreck' of a campaign that saw her labelled as a “dinosaur” has riled up voters for all sorts of reasons.

Some claimed the backlash was about her faith. Others said she was too socially conservative to lead the SNP.

While she swore she would “not roll back on any rights that already exist”, that promise felt empty in an era when abortion rights are being rolled back, promises to ban conversion therapy are being ducked, and trans rights are under threat.

Meanwhile, Health secretary Humza Yousaf - a trans ally now considered a frontrunner for the first minister position - has had more press attention on the fact he missed the Scottish same-sex marriage vote than on his handling of the NHS crisis. He also faced media criticism for his pro-LGBTQIA+ views.

Politics is often ugly, polarised and petty, but Forbes has proved that values do matter. Crucially, she has shown that Brits across the political spectrum have come to see same-sex marriage as an inalienable right.

My take: In under a decade, a contentious debate has become a place where we all agree, love wins. In turbulent times, this should be a source of hope for us all.

Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay queer disabled - A note from me:

This week, the media tried to reignite well-settled debates about our rights. All the while, they tried to suggest public backlash to these anti-gay marriage views was a media fabrication - a complete lie.

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