In his article on same-sex marriage (Friends of The Scotsman, 6 September), John Deighan, parliamentary officer of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, makes a number of incorrect assertions. He claims most Scots are against same-sex marriage. In fact, the independent academic research of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found that Scots support it by 61 per cent in favour to 19 per cent against.
Amongst Catholics the survey found 54 per cent in favour and 21 per cent against. Mr Deighan claims that the sociological evidence says that children do better with mixed-sex parents.
In fact, as the American Sociological Association (ASA) said in evidence to the US Supreme Court this year: “When the social science evidence is exhaustively examined – which the ASA has done – the facts demonstrate that children fare just as well when raised by same-sex parents.”
If marriage is good for the children of mixed-sex parents, it must surely be good also for the children of same-sex parents. He claims that in only 0.01 per cent (one in 10,000) of households will a couple want a same-sex marriage.
In fact, as can be verified from the website of the General Register Office for Scotland, the rate of same-sex civil partnerships currently runs stably at 2 per cent of the rate of mixed-sex marriages, and it is likely that the rate of same-sex marriages will be similar, if not greater.
John Deighan writes that the state has no authority to redefine marriage. In contrast to previous recent bills, such as the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, which made no-fault divorce much faster for all marriages, the same-sex marriage bill does not make a single change to any mixed-sex marriage.
It does not redefine anyone’s marriage; it simply makes marriage available to committed, loving couples who could not access it before.
The Equality Network recognises that there is a range of views among churches and other religious bodies on this issue, with some supporting and wishing to conduct same-sex marriages, and others opposing.
The bill enhances the freedom of religious bodies, by enabling them to decide for themselves whether or not to conduct same-sex marriages.
And as the representative of the Methodist Church, sitting alongside Mr Deighan in the parliament’s evidence session this week, said, we live in a parliamentary democracy, and it is our Parliament that has the authority to decide our marriage laws.