BY Ian Dunn | February 7 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Church remains committed to the Sacrament of marriage

The Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of legislation to allow same-sex ‘marriage’ on Tuesday, with the first such ceremonies now expected to take place before the end of this year.

The passing of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, by 105 votes to 18, dismayed traditional marriage campaigners, who said politicians had failed to understand the consequences of their actions or provide sufficient protections for religious groups opposed to same-sex ‘marriage.’

A spokesperson for the Church in Scotland said that ‘while the Catholic Bishops of Scotland are disappointed in the decision of the Scottish Parliament it does not change the Church’s understanding of or our commitment to the Sacrament of marriage.’ On Tuesday, SNP backbencher John Mason brought forward an amendment to alter the legislation to ensure no one is ‘compelled by any means’ to solemnise gay marriage, but this and a series of similar amendments were all rejected by MSPs.

A spokesman for the Scotland for Marriage campaign group said the law could have very serious consequences for those who believe in traditional marriage. “This has been a sad day for those who believe in and who have fought for traditional marriage,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of MSPs have completely ignored public opinion and steam-rollered through a law which is ill-conceived, poorly thought out and will, in time, discriminate against ordinary people for their sincerely held beliefs.”

The group also suggested that people could face charges for following their religious beliefs on this issue in the very near future.

“We expect prosecutions and discrimination to follow in the brave new world of Scotland 2014,” he said.

John Deighan, the parliamentary officer for Scotland’s bishops, said the atmosphere in the chamber on Tuesday had been more appropriate to a ‘party’ than a legislature.

“Now we want people to feel good about themselves but there was a real lack of proper analysis of the consequences of this as a sociological development,” he said. “I think this is another thing weakening the importance of mothers and fathers… and the people who are affected most by this are the children. We want to give children the best chance of prospering, so why aren’t politicians willing to look at the family structures which have such a huge impact on that?”

A similar tone was struck by Alan Hamilton, convenor of the Church of Scotland’s legal questions committee. “The Church of Scotland holds to the mainstream Christian belief that marriage is properly between a man and a woman,” he said. “We are concerned that public servants, particularly registrars and teachers, who do not support same-sex ‘marriage,’ may find themselves disadvantaged in the workplace.”

However Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil, who steered the legislation through Holyrood, said the passage of the bill was ‘one of the great historic days of the Parliament.’


—This story ran in full in the Feb 7 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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