Same-sex schism

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I sometimes wonder why I continue to challenge Richard Lucas (Letters, 25 November) in print, given that our views are polar opposites and that neither will ever persuade the other to change.

He claims the god I believe in doesn’t exist, whereas I’d say the Lucas god represents an angry old male traditionalist, ready to condemn anything and anyone who doesn’t ascribe to his medieval world view.

But the main reason for offering an alternative view to Lucas’s continued attacks on homosexuals, frequently disguised as a defence of “traditional” marriage (whatever that might be, and it seems it might not be a very pleasant institution when we read Jane Devine’s piece on violence against women), is to support those gay and lesbian couples who simply want to be part of wider society by having their relationships formally recognised – without the constant suggestions that it will bring about the end of civilisation.

It’s interesting that the BBC has just finished a season of tributes to Benjamin Britten’s centenary; Britten and his partner Peter Pears were an example of a long-term gay couple who would these days probably wish to formalise their relationship by marrying.

In the more hypocritical 1950s, the nature of their relationship was widely known but hushed up. Whatever Richard Lucas thinks, we now live in a more open and tolerant society, and nothing he can do or say is going to return it to medieval times and customs – thank God.

(Dr) Mary Brown

Dalvenie Road

Banchory

Martin Conroy and Richard Lucas both object (Letters, 25 November) to the substantial free vote in the Scottish Parliament in favour of same-sex marriage. They both say that marriage is about children, but they have missed two key facts. The first is that many same-sex couples are bringing up children. The second is that the research shows that children do as well with two parents of the same sex as with mixed-sex parents.

The American Sociological Association, giving evidence to a US Supreme Court case about same-sex marriage earlier this year, said: “When the social science evidence is exhaustively examined, the facts show that children fare just as well when raised by same-sex parents.”

If, as Mr Conroy and Mr Lucas write, marriage is good for the children of mixed-sex parents, it must surely be good also for the children of same-sex parents.

Tim Hopkins

Equality Network

Bernard Street

Edinburgh

The Humanist Society Scotland congratulates MSPs for the civilised and moving debate on Stage I of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill and the overwhelming vote in favour of this progressive piece of legislation which perfectly suits a modern secular democracy, where freedom of religion and belief is enshrined, and where the freedom not to believe is also protected.

While much coverage of the debate concerned allowing same-sex couples to marry, many people may not have noticed a revolutionary change to marriage law of which Scotland should be proud: that Humanist celebrants will now share a status equal to their religious colleagues, one of only eight countries in the world where this form of equality exists.

The majority of people who marry in Scotland choose not to involve religion; and Humanist ceremonies, unlike their religious counterparts, are actually increasing in number.

The legal change in the status of Humanist celebrants and people’s choice of marriage ceremony also reflects the outcome of the 2011 census in Scotland, in which, at 37 per cent, “none” was the largest response to the question about religious affiliation.

We hope other debates on the nature of Scottish society will be conducted with the same reason, compassion and humanity shown in the debate on the bill.

Ross Wright

Humanist Society Scotland

Bath Street

Glasgow