Monday, 19 November 2012
Alex Salmond's Gay Marriage Dilemma
The subject of gay marriage is of little interest to me but it continues to be in the headlines. I supported the Civil Partnership legislation because I thought it only right that two people who care deeply for each other have the choice of making their union legal, but I can't understand the pressure for gay marriage when the substance is already part of our legislation.
Now Alex Salmond's Parish minister as stepped into the debate. The Reverend Andrew Fothergill from the Strichen and Tyrie Parish Church, Abderdeenshire has given his views on the gay marriage debate.
“My personal position is that I think naturally, we have as celebrants, some concerns about the assurances that have been given by the Scottish Government about the safeguards it intends to put in place to protect celebrants who would hold a different position from what the future government legislation might become. I think many of us
are a bit nervous about what protection it can actually offer.”
Although the Scottish Government insists no religious group will be required to perform gay marriages, doubt exists in the population as well as within some religious groups.
What I don't understand about this issue is why it's necessary to introduce this legislation when the Civil Partnership Info website describes Civil Partnerships as 'a legal marriage between couples that are gay or lesbian'.
The Civil Partnership Act states 'that it will not allow any form of religious activity to occur during the process of registering the union. The act does not include a ceremony and any couple that wishes to have a ceremony will need to contact the registration authority, where the union is to be entered, to find out whether a ceremony is possible'.
The only difference I can see between civil partnerships and the proposed gay marriage legislation is that religion can now become involved. Is it any wonder some religious representatives are nervous at the prospect of being accused of bigotry if they refuse to marry a gay couple?
It's not so long ago ministers and vicars (I lived in England at the time), could refuse to baptise, marry or bury people - the usual reason being the person/people involved was/were not members of their congregation. Usually the people involved did find someone willing to undertake the religious service and there was little ill-feeling between the refusers and their would-be customers.
I appreciate Mr Salmond's minister's doubt. All it needs is - once such legislation is passed - is for one couple to take a minister to court for refusing to marry them and there's little doubt in my mind that someone will take such action in the not too distant future.
Whatever the outcome - although it looks as if the Scottish Government is determined to put it on the statute books - of this debate there will be dissatisfied people on both sides. My wish is that the gay community do not label the Rev. Fothergill a bigot or a homophobe because he questions promises given by the Scottish Government. Such emotive and often unjustified language only denigrates their case.
The LGBT community insist they only want 'equality' but there's no equality for the heterosexual population when they are not permitted access to a civil partnership. Maybe Alex Salmond should be proposing marriage is done away with and civil partnerships introduced for all. That would be a solution.