More than 1,000 Catholic constituents of the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, have signed a petition calling for her to oppose changing the law to allow gay couples to marry.
Representatives from the Catholic Knights of St Columba collected signatures at five churches in the Ms Sturgeon’s constituency and handed the petition to her this morning.
More than 50,000 people responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on introducing full marriage equality in the country. Ms Sturgeon had previously stated that the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) Government was minded towards introducing equality.
In February, the leaders of all of Scotland’s opposition parties: Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Greens signed a pledge to vote for gay couples being allowed to marry when the issue comes before the Scottish Parliament. Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party is openly lesbian while Patrick Harvie, the leader of the Scottish Green Party is openly bisexual.
The organiser of the petition, Brian Henry told the BBC: “We don’t see any reason for a change in the law.
“The sanctity of marriage is one of our sacraments within the Catholic church and that is something that we, as a faith, hold very strongly to.”
On receiving the petition, Ms Sturgeon said: “Decisions will be taken in due course and, as the government has always made clear, if the decision is to legislate for same-sex marriage then there will be protections to ensure that no religious group is compelled to take part in same-sex marriage.”
The leader of the Catholic in Scotland, Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien, has said that gay marriage is a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. He suggests that same sex marriage will lead to three way marriages and compared the British Government’s support for equality to legalising slavery.
Unlike in Scotland, the current Home Office consultation on marriage equality in England in Wales framed by the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition British Government is on “how” not “if” to introduce civil marriage equality.
The Prime Minister David Cameron has said he supports gay couples marrying and the Home Secretary Theresa May has said that the Government will ignore the opposition of the Church. She wrote: “Marriage should be for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. Society is stronger when people enter into a stable relationship; when they commit to each other; when they make binding vows to love, honour and cherish one another. That is a deeply conservative opinion — conservative with a big and a small ‘c’.”
The Equality Network said it hoped that the Scottish Government would “”listen attentively to the strength of the arguments made, and bring forward equal marriage legislation as soon as possible.”
Like the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland allows gay couples to hold civil partnerships which offer most of the same legal rights as a marriage.