More than 50,000 responses have been submitted to the Scottish government’s consultation on the introduction of gay marriage.
SNP (Scottish National Party) ministers support the move but some in the party oppose allowing gay couples to marry. A ‘rainbow coalition’ of groups including The Equality Network, Amnesty International, Unison and the Humanist Society of Scotland all filed submissions supporting changing the law.
Like the rest of the United Kingdom, gay couples in Scotland may enter into civil partnerships that offer most of the benefits of marriage but there are subtle differences.
But a change in the law is opposed by most major religious organisations in the country including both the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland 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.”
The religious opposition comes despite a pledge by the SNP government that no religious community would be forced to hold gay marriages against their will.
The deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said while the government would consider all views, she and her colleagues “tended towards the initial view” that gay marriages should be introduced.