Scottish Tory leader and Irish partner call for Yes vote in marriage referendum

Couple says debate in Ireland similar to discussion in Scotland before Scottish parliament legislated for same-sex marriage last year

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, and her Irish partner Jen Wilson, have called for a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum.

Ms Davidson (36) and Ms Wilson (33), who is from Wexford, said the ongoing debate in Ireland was similar to the discussion in Scotland before the Scottish parliament legislated for same-sex marriage last year.

“I would never presume to try and tell people in Ireland how to vote,” Ms Davidson said. “I have a lovely Irish partner. I’m over and back fairly often. Ireland and Scotland are not that different. “Now that the step’s been taken the sky hasn’t fallen in in Scotland. It’s just as it’s always been. Scotland hasn’t changed.”

Ms Davidson, a former journalist and Church of Scotland Sunday-school teacher, describes herself as a practising Christian and “the first openly gay leader of a major political party anywhere in the UK”.


Ms Wilson, who works in marketing for an environmental charity, moved to Edinburgh in 2003. “I left Ireland to feel a bit more comfortable in a place that was a bit more inclusive and to be myself. I had worries about going into the workplace and not being accepted,” she said.

“I’ve been completely out here since I came over and in every workplace. I don’t think I would’ve felt comfortable doing that in Ireland, although I think things have changed.” From a Catholic background, Ms Wilson said she was hopeful there would be a Yes vote on May 22nd but was worried about voter turnout.

Ms Davidson said her sexuality had not had an impact on her political career. British prime minister David Cameron was "very supportive" but her sexuality "has been remarked upon" in the media.

“When I was running for the leadership, every other candidate was described in terms of their job within the party. When it came to me, I was being described as ‘lesbian kick

boxer Ruth Davidson'." She added: "If I do decide to get married I will, of course, invite David and Samantha Cameron. "

Following last week's Westminster election, in which her party held on to its sole MP in Scotland David Mundell, Ms Davidson said she was determined to remain as leader and was focused on next year's Scottish parliament elections.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Acting Features Editor of The Irish Times