Churches denounce law that legalizes same-sex marriage in Scotland

(Photo: REUTERS / Russell Cheyne)Supporters attend a symbolic same-sex marriage outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland February 4, 2014. Scotland voted on Tuesday to allow same-sex marriages, becoming the 17th country to give the green light to gay marriages and paving the way for the first wedding ceremonies later this year.

The main churches in Scotland have all spoken out against the legalizing of same-sex marriage by lawmakers in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

Although Members of the Scottish Parliament passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill by 105 votes to 18, the Scotsman newspaper reported that the action was marked by acrimony as attempts to introduce safeguards for religious Scots were rejected.

"The Church of Scotland holds to the mainstream Christian belief that marriage is properly between a man and a woman," said Alan Hamilton, convenor of the legal questions committee of the church, often known locally as the Kirk.

"We are also concerned that public servants, particularly registrars and teachers, who do not support same-sex marriage, may find themselves disadvantaged in the workplace," said Hamilton.

The (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland is the biggest church in the country with some 32 percent of its 5 million people claiming an allegiance to the Kirk.

Scotland became the 17th country in the world to legalize gay marriage after the bill was passed.

"Today is a momentous day for equality in our nation," said Alex Neil who heads the health ministry in Scotland.

"This legislation sends a powerful message to the world about the kind of society we in Scotland are trying to create – a nation where the principles of fairness and equality are weaved into the very fabric of our society."

Annie Park, chair of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender choir Loud & Proud, said: "It's a historic day and we feel very proud to be here and part of a fight that has gone on for decades."


The bishops from the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland lamented the decision to allow gay marriages.

"While the Catholic Bishops of Scotland are disappointed in the decision of the Scottish Parliament it does not change the Church's understanding of or our commitment to the Sacrament of marriage," a spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Scotland said on Wednesday.

Opposition also came from Rev. David Robertson, a Free Church of Scotland minister in Dundee and director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity.

He said, "It was with a heavy heart that we listened to the debate in the Scottish Parliament."

Robertson noted, "As we feared, the Scottish Government has been unable to define marriage and is thus hardly qualified to redefine it. The legislation passed by MSPs essentially turns all marriages into civil partnerships."

The Evangelical Association said the passing of the bill in was a "blow for society."

"Marriage and the family are the bedrock of society and we should be celebrating and encouraging them, but this legislation does neither.

It has redefined marriage into a fluid, gender-neutral institution defined by consumer demands and political expediency, and destroys the God-ordained nucleus for a well-functioning society," said Fred Drummond, director of Evangelical Alliance Scotland.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News