Gordon Wilson, a former leader of the Scottish National Party (SPN), has accused lawmakers pushing for same-sex marriage of moving the country toward "state fascism."
"Be warned, those MSPs of all parties on a narrow majority who exercise their 'free' vote for same-sex marriage. They may find that a free vote has as much validity as a 'free' lunch. If they ignore public opinion, a P45 may await. Do not scorn the electorate," Wilson has said according to The Daily Telegraph, warning legislatures that they may lose their positions when voters go to the polls.
The Church of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament are at each other's necks when it comes to including same-sex couples in the definition of marriage, with the Church strongly opposed to such a shift. Talks between the two sides have hit a rocky patch with Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the highest ranking Catholic leader in Scotland, suspending talks with the government after it was made clear that it will be pushing for gay marriage regardless of the Church's warnings.
Wilson, who led the SNP in the 1980s, is also meeting with the organization Scotland For Marriage, a church group fighting to preserve traditional marriage. Although Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, has promised that clergymen opposed to this change will not have to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies if they do not wish to, Wilson said that that is not enough to protect the church's values. He also cited statistics that show that 64 percent of Scottish people who responded to a public consultation do not wish to see the marriage definition change.
"What is the point of canvassing the views of the electorate and then cynically discarding them? If you think we are sliding down a road to state fascism and intolerance, you may not be far wrong," Wilson warned.
The Scottish government has insisted, however, that the country is "committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal." It has also said that despite the significant disagreement with the Church, it hopes it can preserve good relations between the two institutions.
"We have the utmost respect for the different views expressed in the debate. While this is an honest disagreement over policy, on a personal level relations between the First Minister and the Cardinal are extremely good, as they are with Scotland's other faith leaders – Mr. Salmond holds the Cardinal in the highest regard and will always do so," a government spokesman has said, referring to the relationship between Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Cardinal O'Brien, which some say has been strained as a result of the same-sex marriage debate.