Scotland’s Gay Marriage Plans

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The government in Scotland, UK, has confirmed it will introduce a bill to allow same-sex marriage within the month. A special consultation on a ‘Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill’ came to an end in March this year, however its findings have yet to be made public.

Scottish ministers have promised to change the law to allow same-sex couples the right to marry whilst also writing in protections for religious groups that do not want to carry out such ceremonies. Both the Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic Church are against the plans, as is expected.

The government advise the bill would also allow civil ceremonies to take place at a location other than a registrar’s office and once a legislative proposal had been lodged at parliament it will undergo rigorous scrutiny before committee members and in the chamber. There have also been talks going on behind the scenes have been taking place with the UK Government as ministers at Holyrood House, the home of the Scottish political chamber, believe an amendment is needed to UK equalities legislation to protect individual celebrants who may not want to conduct same-sex ceremonies even if their church, as an organisation, backs them. Health secretary Mr Neil said “substantial progress” had been made on the issue in discussions with UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller.

Mr Neil said: “We have given a commitment to introduce this legislation after the extensive consultation we have had as quickly as possible, which is what we’re doing. I would hope the timetabling would be such that we could see this bill become law sooner rather than later.”

 

 

Miliband Supports Gay Marriage.

The UK’s Labour Party leader Ed Miliband thinks  ‘Churches and other religious institutions should be free to stage gay weddings’.  The opposition leader said when backing the UK’s Government plans to legislate for same-sex marriages is a sign that Britain is a “modern country”.

However, he has taken a step further than all the ministers of the government in calling for the right to hold same-sex marriages to be extended to faith groups as well.   Miliband recorded a  video for the Out4Marriage campaign, in which he said: “I think, whether you are gay or straight, you should be able to signify your commitment, your love with the term ‘marriage’, and so the Labour Party provides its wholehearted support for this campaign.
“We will be pushing the Government to get on with the process for legislating for equal marriage, and we’ll also be saying to them, where faith groups want to provide that opportunity for gay couples as well as straight couples, they should be able to do so.

“We’ve come a long way on gay and lesbian rights in the last two decades – civil partnerships, age of consent, a range of other things – but I know there’s further to go.

“I know that equal marriage is a very, very important part of ensuring equality before the law, the equality in our culture which is so important, and such a sign of us being a modern country and the kind of country I believe in.”
The UK Government is currently consulting on proposals for civil marriages for same-sex couples in England and Wales, with legislation promised before the next general election in 2015.  The UK already has a same sex civil partnership law which allows same sex couples to register and have legal civil ceremonies,  which to many people are seen as a marriage in all but name.

The Scottish Government, meanwhile, has said it intends to legislate for both civil and religious marriages for same-sex couples in Scotland.

Benjamin Cohen, of Out4Marriage, welcomed Mr Miliband’s support for extending the legislation in England and Wales to cover religious ceremonies as well,  “We need full marriage equality, not a half-step that continues to deny gay couples to right to marry in churches, synagogues and meeting houses that are happy to accommodate them. We hope and trust that the Government will come to the same conclusion as the Labour Party,” he said.

This is the latest swing toward a more positive mood in the UK for marriage equality seen from the political leaders and parties, which have in the past been fractious over the issue.

 

Scottish Bishops Wants Incest

A senior bishop in the Catholic church in Scotland has angered many by likening homosexuality to incest. During the rant from the bishop of Aberdeen he suggesting that if the Scottish Government truly believed in equality it would make incest and polygamy legal.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert claimed he ‘loved’ gay people but told the Scottish Catholic Observer: “Why is it alright for a man to marry another man, but not alright for him to marry two women? If we really want equality, why does that equality not extend to nieces who genuinely, truly love their uncles?”

Surprisingly he went further and even suggested incest was commonplace in Aberdeen, “And, if you say that such things don’t happen, that they are mere freaks of nature, extreme examples dreamed up for the sake of argument, I say you need to spend more time in the parish.”

The gay bashing bishop did say that he will continue to work for gay people, just not marry them: “As Bishop of Aberdeen, I know there are gay people amongst the community of the Church. I promise I will always respect and love them and uphold them in their relationship with the God who loves them. But I won’t marry them. It just can’t be done.” Although under the marriage equality proposals being put forward, no church or celebrant would be forced into conducting same sex marriages, so he wouldn’t be required to.

The bishop also said “The truth is that a government can pass any legislation it likes, it can legislate to say that everything with four legs is a table, even when it’s a dog and not a horse, but that won’t make it so.” which is quite true, just like the church can say gay people are bad and marriage equality is an impossibility, but that won’t make it so.

Equality Network director Tim Hopkins, told the media, “We are very disappointed the Bishop of Aberdeen should choose to compare same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest. That is offensive and uncalled for.”

However such offensive remarks from the Catholic church in Scotland are nothing new, earlier this year, their head Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien, claimed gay marriage was a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. Suggesting same sex marriage will lead to three way marriages and compared the government’s support for equality to legalising slavery.

Scotland Says “I Do” To Gay Weddings

First Country in UK to Introduce Policy

The country that gave you Robert the Bruce and Rob Roy announced plans to become the first jurisdiction in Great Britain to allow same sex marriages .With no referendum, if the bill passes through the Scottish parliament without a hitch, gay couples would be able to legally wed by 2015. The Scottish government says that they are amending UK equalities laws to ensure that celebrants cannot be prosecuted by gay couples if they refuse to take part or speak out against same-sex ceremonies (protection for freedom of speech and freedom of religion). The Scottish Parliament would bring in the change through a bill this year.

How This Came About

Nearly 80,000, a record number, responded to a government consultation on the gay marriage issue demonstrating a need for the legislation. As it stands now, same-sex couples in Scotland have the option to enter into civil partnerships and the Holyrood government has insisted that the religious community will not be forced to hold same-sex weddings in churches. Such protection is provided for under existing laws.The Scottish government is going ahead with another consultation for extra measures to protect religious beliefs of teachers and parents in schools.

Unlike America, civil partnerships in Scotland offer the same legal treatment as marriage but aren’t regarded as marriages even though they offer marital benefits such as inheritance, life insurance, child maintenance, next of kin and immigration rights and pensions provision.

Who’s For It?

Major Scottish political parties are backing the measure. Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK backs legalizing same sex marriage. A “rainbow coalition “ of organizations including The Equality Network, Amnesty International, Unison, the Humanist Society of Scotland as well as the United Reform Church, the Quakers, Buddhists and the Pagan Federation support gay marriage.

“Confirms Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister, “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 that this is the right thing to do.” (http://BBC News Scotland Politics, 25 July 2012)

Those Opposed, Say Nay

Two thirds of respondents oppose the change.

The proposals have provoked ire from religious groups such as The Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church. The Church of Scotland expressed discontent that the government was rushing ahead with its plans. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric labels the plans a “grotesque subversion of a universally-accepted human right.” The cardinal, who leads the church in Scotland, supports the Scotland For Marriage campaign against same-sex marriage. A Catholic Church spokesman believes “the Scottish government is embarking on a dangerous social experiment on a massive scale.”

A former SNP leader, Gordon Wilson, fears that plans for same-sex marriage could alienate people considering voting for independence in the 2014 referendum.

The Future

The UK Government has also carried out a consultation on same-sex marriage, but has yet to publish the results. England and Wales, in their proposals, envision same-sex civil marriage ceremonies in a registry office or approved premises, with status quo for religious marriages. Before taking further steps, UK officials are waiting for results of the public consultation.