BY Ian Dunn | February 3 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Aberdeen Bishop appeals to MSPs before tomorrow’s vote on marriage bill

“Marriage has hitherto and rightly referred to the union of a man and woman from which children will normally spring… it seems to me beyond the power of any Parliament to alter this,” Bishop Gilbert tells Scottish politicians

Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen (above) has made a final appeal to MSP’s to consider religious freedom before voting on of same-sex ‘marriage’ (SSM) legislation tomorrow.

Bishop Gilbert has sent a letter all 22 MSPs whose represent constituents in his diocese saying he wished to express his profound concerns which he said were shared by many Scots, Catholic or otherwise.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill is due to return to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday for the final stage of consideration. Stage 3 is the final opportunity for MSPs to amend a bill before it goes for royal assent. Some reports have suggested that if the law is passed the first same-sex ‘marriages’ could take place by the summer. Bishop Gilbert said the consequences of this would be severe and impossible to foretell.

“Approval of this bill will do something more and other than allow homosexual couples to marry,” the bishop says in a letter last Thursday to MSPs in his diocese. “It will legally redefine marriage and thus affect the general social understanding of that institution.

“It seems to me that a serious ‘category mistake’ is being made here. Human beings can come together, obviously, in a whole spectrum of relationships, and there is nothing to prevent two persons of the same sex living together permanently. The current arrangements for civil partnerships provide for this. This however is not marriage. It is a friendship, relationship, partnership.

“The concept and legal recognition of marriage has hitherto and rightly referred to the union of a man and woman from which children will normally spring. It seems to me beyond the power of any Parliament to alter this, and the ideological basis on which this change is being introduced comes across as flimsy in the extreme.”

Bishop Gilbert said while he could understand the ‘laudable intent of combating undesirable forms of discrimination,’ ‘guaranteeing equality is not applicable here.’

“A sexual partnership of two persons of the same sex is simply not ‘equal’ in its content to the marriage of a man and a woman,” he says. “It is different. This observation is distinct from any ethical consideration of such partnerships, nor is it particularly ‘faith-based.’ It is simply maintaining that to allow SSM is to muddy language and confuse categories. I would therefore hope that you would not endorse this. At the very least, the matter requires further thought.”

Bishop Gilbert’s letter also says he understands this legislation is ‘not unlikely’ to pass and therefore asks MSP’s to ‘support amendments which ensure that those who maintain that marriage is uniquely the union of a man and woman are ensured respect?’

“There is a widespread attitude that accuses those unsympathetic to the proposed legislation of bigotry or homophobia,” the bishop says. “This is seriously unjust, and a very real concern. It is an irony that a measure aimed at preventing a perceived injustice to a small minority threatens to provoke fresh injustices to a far larger percentage of the population.”


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