Jim Eadie MSP believes plans to legalise same-sex marriage strike a blow for equality. The Rev David Court says they attack a fundamental element of human society. Who’s right?
By Jim Eadie, MSP for Edinburgh Southern
THE decision to legalise same-sex marriage sends the clearest possible signal about the kind of country we wish Scotland to be – a society which celebrates its diversity and is tolerant and generous to all. As the first country in the UK to introduce equal marriage, Scotland will be following in the footsteps of countries such as Norway, Spain and Canada, ensuring that loving and committed relationships between two people can be celebrated and receive the legal and spiritual recognition they deserve.
This is about creating a modern and progressive society – one of which we can all be proud. We will do this while guaranteeing religious freedom for those churches and individual celebrants who do not wish to perform equal marriage ceremonies.
In fact, we actually enhance religious freedom by allowing those religious bodies who have expressed a desire to celebrate same-sex marriages to do so.
The Scottish Government has made it clear that the Bill will be accompanied by “important protections” for freedom of speech and religion.
Clearly there is still a lot of hard work ahead as the proposals make their way through parliament.
However, there is a clear timetable which means that a Bill will be introduced by the end of this year, with legislation in force by the following year.
In the meantime we should celebrate this significant step forward. When future generations look back they will see this as a historic moment which helped to create a Scotland based on equality, justice and fairness for all.
By Rev David Court of New Restalrig Church
Across the world and throughout human history marriage has been a vital part of the very fabric of human society. Our legal definition is rooted in the biblical understanding that marriage is “the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others”.
The proposed introduction of same-sex marriage here in Scotland will radically alter this traditional definition and instead impose a new version on our society. This is being done under the guise of ensuring “equality”, even though all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples through civil-partnership registrations. If marriage is legally redefined then marriage will be redefined for us all. Why change something that has stood the test of time and been so critical to the life and health and stability of our nation?
Now we hear that the Scottish Government is to press ahead with its Bill to introduce same-sex marriage, all this despite an overwhelmingly negative response to such a course of action in its public consultation. It is an action that will inevitably open the door to a whole host of legal problems that will surely engulf those who hold to a traditional view of marriage.
Despite the promises of protection for churches and faith groups it is difficult to see how religious freedoms will be preserved in the long term. By seeking to rewrite the law on marriage the Scottish Government is taking a step too far and engaging in an act of social and cultural vandalism, the full effects of which will be felt only in the years to come.