Scotland Pushes for Gay Marriage; Church Warns Against Infringing on Rights

Scotland is pushing to become the first U.K. nation to introduce legislature approving same-sex marriage, though their plans are being opposed both by the Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland.

Currently, Scotland allows for same-sex civil partnerships, but an entire "rainbow coalition" of organizations, which includes The Equality Network, Amnesty International, Unison and the Humanist Society of Scotland, wants fully recognized marriage for gay couples, BBC reported.

The U.K. government is, in the meantime, considering whole-scale changes to the definition of marriage and is proposing to legalize gay marriage by 2015.

Much like the U.K. government proposals, the Scottish bill is supposed to provide a provision for religious institutions opposed to same-sex marriage, allowing them to refuse to perform such ceremonies. But the mainstream Scottish Christian communities are concerned that changing the traditional definition of marriage to include same-sex couples will force churches to accept something that goes against their beliefs nonetheless.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the most senior Catholic cleric, has even called the plan a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right," and has called for more discussion to be held on the issue. The cardinal has also pushed for the Scotland for Marriage campaign in opposition to same-sex marriage

"The Church of Scotland cannot agree that the law in Scotland should be changed to allow same-sex marriage. The Government's proposal fundamentally changes marriage as it is understood in our country and our culture – that it is a relationship between one man and one woman. In common with the historic position of the Christian Church, the Church of Scotland has always viewed marriage as being between one man and one woman," a previous statement issued by the church body read.

"Scriptural references to marriage, whether literal or metaphorical, all operate under this understanding. To redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage may have significant and, as yet, inadequately considered repercussions for our country, for the well-being of families, communities and individuals," the body added.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May 2011 affirmed that while it supports the traditional definition of marriage, it still views homophobia as sinful and urges ministries to defend all members of the church, regardless of their sexual orientation.

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