The leader of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland is speaking this morning at the launch of a new coalition which opposes the introduction of equal marriage rights.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien will join former SNP leader Gordon Wilson and Ann Allen of the Church of Scotland, and the three figures will deliver speeches outside the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.

The Roman Catholic Church intends to deliver 20,000 postcards to the Scottish Parliament signed by Scottish people who oppose gay marriage.

Cardinal O’Brien said: “As an institution, marriage long predates the existence of any state or government. It was not created by government and should not be changed by them.

“Instead, recognising the innumerable benefits which marriage brings to society they should act to protect and uphold it not attack or dismantle it.

“At the heart of this debate however there is one perspective which seems to be completely lost or ignored, it is the point of view of the child.

“All children deserve to begin life with a mother and father, the evidence in favour of the stability and well being which this provides is overwhelming and unequivocal.”

Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson, who was voted off the board of Dundee’s Citizens Advice Bureau over his views against gay marriage last month, said: “If the Scottish Government wants the Scottish people to vote for independence in a referendum, why is it going out of its way to alienate so many Scots in the Christian and Muslim communities?

“As a veteran, it is obvious to me the Government is in a political hole. My advice is simple. Forget about the ‘done deal’ with the Tory/Liberal coalition in London. They are not on your side. Scotland is not London. As you will find, Scotland is for marriage!”

Surveys have found 61% of Scots support the extension of marriage to include gay couples.

Ann Allen, a former Convener for the Church of Scotland, expressed her view, saying: “I’m confused as to why with so many pressing issues confronting us today in Scotland, our government has chosen to prioritise time, effort, and money on this particular issue. Canada legalised same sex marriage in 2005 and today faces challenges to have polygamy legalised. Is this what we want for a modern Scotland: a continual changing of moral and legal goalposts?

“As a former teacher I am concerned that children are going to be taught that same sex partnerships and traditional marriage are the same, which they are not. If the redefining of marriage goes ahead it will have far reaching consequences and as far as I can see none of them are positive.”

The new coalition, Scotland for Marriage, has taken out half-page notices in the Daily Record, The Herald and The Scotsman, encouraging opposition to plans to allow gay marriages.

Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland told the Herald: “When there are 1.2 billion people in the world living on less than a dollar a day, it’s a shame that the churches’ priorities are focused on preventing a few thousand people express their commitment and love for each other.

“It is the right of the churches to oppose same-sex marriage but it has to be done in a respectful manner.”

The rally which launched Scotland for Marriage will take place this morning outside the Scottish Parliament.