Analysis: There’s no need to redefine marriage for everyone

Cardinal Keith O'Brien: Opposed to gay marriage proposals. Picture: Greg Macvean
Cardinal Keith O'Brien: Opposed to gay marriage proposals. Picture: Greg Macvean
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AS THE risks become daily more apparent, it’s no wonder the Scottish Government keeps delaying its announcement on whether or not to proceed with redefining marriage.

It’s a huge decision with massive repercussions. It’s right that the Cabinet should take more time to reflect on the gravity of what they are contemplating. They are thinking of unravelling one of the oldest, most fundamental building blocks of society: marriage. The risks are serious.

It’s all so unnecessary. Civil partnerships already give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples, so there’s no need to redefine marriage for everyone else. It’s perfectly possible to respect others and defend traditional marriage at the same time. Equality doesn’t mean sameness.

The Scottish Government has walked into a constitutional, legal, and most likely an electoral mess.

The Scottish Government says it could easily protect churches and others who are worried that they would be sued for holding traditional views about marriage.

But leading human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill, QC, shows that the promises are hollow because discrimination law is controlled by Westminster.

People will be penalised by equality bureaucrats for holding to traditional views about marriage, particularly in the public sector. Schools will be forced to teach gay marriage, and parents and teachers who disagree will be sidelined.

The biggest test of public opinion so far has been the three-month consultation. A record-breaking 80,000 responses were sent in – and a clear majority were opposed to the plan.

We think marriage should not be redefined. But if the Scottish Government is determined, it should at least hold a public referendum. Let the people decide.

The fact that the Scottish Government yesterday ran away from a referendum speaks volumes. The SNP is trying to clear the decks with a view to focusing all attention on the independence referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon has been to the fore pushing for same sex marriage legislation. But she may now be finally waking up to the fact that she is risking everything.

The Muslim community she largely relies on for her majority in her Glasgow Southside seat has already told her their votes will go elsewhere if she pursues this attack on people of faith.

• Mike Judge is a spokesman for Scotland for Marriage.