September 29, 2011

IconReligious groups back equal marriage in Scotland

A coalition of faith groups has emerged to back the Scottish Youth Parliament’s call for marriage equality.

Representatives from Liberal Judaism, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Pagan Federation, the Quakers and the Scottish Unitarian Association took part in a joint press conference yesterday. They called for a change in the law to allow their respective organisations to preside over religious marriages for same-sex couples.

“Members of the Scottish Unitarian Association have consulted widely about same-sex marriage and solidly support the right of LGBT persons to enter into marriage with the full blessing of civil and religious institutions,” said Reverend Maud Robinson.

She argued that civil partnerships are “entirely unjust” because they do not allow a religious element. “They are saying we recognise these partnerships in law, we recognise same-sex couples can have all of the legal rights that accrue to heterosexual relationships, but they can’t ask for the blessing of God on their relationship.”

Rabbi Mark Solomon explained that Liberal Judaism “has affirmed the need for full marriage equality, both civil and religious, as a matter of justice, equality and religious freedom”.

The groups were joined by Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh in the Episcopal Church and Suzanne Dance, facilitator of the Buddhist Community of Interbeing. Both spoke in favour of marriage equality in a personal capacity. “There is no single Christian or religious view on this subject,” argued Holloway.

A number of religious groups actively oppose marriage equality in Scotland. “No government can re-write human nature: the family and marriage existed before the state and are built on the union between a man and a woman,” declared Cardinal Keith O’Brien of the Roman Catholic Church in a homily given earlier this month.

A consultation on the issue was launched by the Scottish government at the beginning of September. “We have published a consultation on same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships, and made clear that we tend towards the view that same-sex marriage should be introduced,” stated a spokesperson for the SNP administration.

“However, we are aware that for religious reasons, some faith groups and celebrants may not want to solemnise same-sex marriages, and that is why we are making it clear that they should not be obliged to do so.”

“We recognise that there will be a range of views on the consultation proposals, and we want to hear the views from all sections of Scottish society.”

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