New appeal in marriage campaign
— Government ruling undermines growing support for postcard campaign against changes
OVERWHELMING support for the Catholic Church’s postcard campaign against the legalisation of same-sex ‘marriage’ has been dented by the Scottish Government’s policy to treat the 14,000 plus responses as one submission in the consultation.
The Catholic Church’s parliamentary office has already received more than 14,000 postcards opposing the Scottish Government’s plans to redefine marriage but it emerged this week that the government’s consultation guidelines mean this will be viewed as a single submission.
When the Scottish Government announced earlier this year that consultation on the legalisation of same-sex ‘marriage’ would run until December 9, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was minded to support such legislation.
John Deighan, the Scottish bishops’ parliamentary officer, said that the government has to be made to understand the level of opposition on this issue.
Mr Deighan said he understood submissions to the consultation were currently running at two to one against same-sex ‘marriage’ and that he believed the Church was winning the argument in spite of the decision on the postcard campaign.
“We’ve got the strength of numbers and the strength of arguments,” he said. “And if there’s any sense in this world the government will relent.”
Mr Deighan also indicated that the Church’s campaign had been receiving increasing support from other Christian denominations.
“Many church ministers from different denominations have been in touch,” he said. “One evangelical church asked for a thousand postcards, so in a strange way this is actually having a positive ecumenical effect.”
The Church now hopes individuals who have or are going to join the postcard campaign will also respond individually to the consultation outlining their hostility to same-sex ‘marriage.’
“To count 14,000 postcards and counting as a single submission in no way deals with the reality of the strength of feeling in this issue,” Mr Deighan said. “I think the scale of it speaks for itself. However the Church will also be submitting many well thought-out and argued submissions from individuals and organisations.”
Mr Deighan also said he hoped many Catholics would now also prepare their own individual submissions.
“When we reach 20,000 postcards we are hoping to contact as many people who have sent them on to us as we can and ask them to enter a submission on the Scottish Government’s websites.
“It is very easy to do and even if you just fill out the front section and put your comments at the end it will still be recognised as valid.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government indicated that they would consider the size of the Church’s postcard campaign when submissions to the consultation were evaluated.
“The Scottish Government encourages everybody to send in an individual response,” the spokesperson said.
“In relation to postcard campaigns, the Scottish Government will count the number of postcards received. We will then outline in our analysis and summary, which will be published, how many postcards were received and what points were being made. This is in accordance with our guidance on consultations, published in 2008.”