Yesterday morning the Scottish Government announced that they would be presenting legislation to legalize gay ‘marriage’, following news that 74 out of a total of 129 MSP’s are in favour of the plans.
The policies to change the definition of marriage are expected to hit Scotland as early as next year. (Read yesterday’s BBC news report, ‘Gay marriage to be introduced in Scotland.’)
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has been the main party pushing for these changes, although the measure is supported by all of Scotland’s main political organizations.
The Scottish parliament came under pressure to change the definition of marriage from The Faith in Marriage group, a coalition which includes the United Reformed Church, Buddhists and the Pagan Federation. Gay rights groups like Stonewall Scotland, the Equality Network and Amnesty International have also been focusing attention on Scotland, realizing that any act implemented by the Scottish parliament could have ramifications for the UK Parliament, forcing them to fast-track similar plans for England and Wales.
Scotland’s deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, summed up the current mood when she commented: “We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal, and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships. We believe this is the right thing to do.”
Not everyone agrees that this will be best for Scotland. The Herald newspaper said that redefining marriage is fraught with legal difficulties and accused the Government of failing to do “its homework on the legal consequences”.
The paper concluded: “Religious beliefs which are central to the lives of many must be protected, not least by those who support the legalising of marriage between same-sex couples in the name of liberty. We must not replace one form of discrimination with another.”
Meanwhile, David Cameron has told a party thrown for homosexual activists in 10 Downing Street that he is ‘determined to have gay ‘marriage’ legislation enacted in England and Wales by 2015, alienating the Church of England, other Christians and thousands of Conservative Party members.
Religious Freedom Implications
Unlike the legislation proposed by the UK Parliament for England and Wales, which would only affect civil weddings, Scotland’s legislation would allow same-sex couples be ‘married’ in religious ceremonies provided they have the consent of a religious body. Holyrood has insisted that no church organization would be forced to participate, and MSP are looking to amend the Equality Act 2010 to ensure religious groups opposed to homosexuality have an opt-out.
Not everyone has been reassured by Government’s promises. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, said it should be up to the Scottish people since it raises “serious implications for freedom of belief and expression.”
Christian Voice has raised similar concerns, suggesting that promises to protect religious liberty are not to be trusted. In a recent interview with Robin Phillips, Phillips commented “The promises Government has made in this area are worth less than the paper they’re printed on, as MPs with a legal background and Church of England lawyers have understood almost from the outset.”
The proposals have come at a great political cost since it means that the SNP will lose the support of Muslims throughout Scotland.
Bashir Maan, a spokesperson for the Glasgow’s Muslim community, commented: “We have made it clear to Nicola Sturgeon that we have been very pro-nationalist but if they go ahead with this we will not be happy. There are about five or six thousand Muslims living in her constituency and we hope that she will listen to us.”
Mr. Maan’s coments were echoed by Saleem Aslam, chairman of Taleem ul Islam mosque in Pollokshields, South Glasgow, who said: “Another government could get elected and abolish the opt-out or it could be challenged under human rights laws and then we are back to square one.”
The public has asked the Scottish government to allow a referendum in order to find out what the people of Scotland actually want. When they refused, a spokesman for the organization Scotland for Marriage commented: “The Equality Network is running scared of a referendum because they know they could lose the argument. Which just shows they couldn’t care less about ordinary people. They want to force their view of marriage on everyone else, whether people like it or not.”
If they believe their own hype, if they believe their own polls, they should have the guts to put it to a vote. Their rejection of a referendum shows that, for all their talk, they know most people don’t agree with them… Redefining marriage will have massive knock-on affect in Scotland. Schools will be pressurised to teach gay marriage to kids…. Legal experts say the Scottish Government doesn’t have the power to protect churches from being sued over their support for traditional marriage.
Prayer and Action:
- Thank God for the strong resistance on this issue. Pray that the church will stand up and fight for God’s sacred institution of marriage.
- If you are in Scotland, Email your MSP – Email address here – to ask him/her to oppose ‘Gay Marriage’.
- Also Email your MP in Westminster – Email address here
- Sign our Petition to say: ‘We the undersigned believe that marriage was ordained by God to be the union of one man and one woman and that marriage between two persons of the same sex can not and should not be legalised by any earthly government’. (Click on the wording)
- Where it’s all coming from: May 2012, EU resolution to fight ‘homophobia’ in Europe
- THE TRIVIALISATION OF MATRIMONY: A response to the Government consultation paper: ‘Equal civil marriage: a consultation’
- Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Plans: Q & A
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