At least one of the front pages of the Scottish newspapers is going to be full of Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s call for a referendum to be held on Equal Marriage – that being the issue that the Scottish Cabinet is due to talk about and hopefully make its mind up about on Tuesday. I think that there are a lot of people who would feel rather queasy at the idea of having a referendum on the human rights of others in society.
Here’s what I say:
The voice of Scotland’s Roman Catholic Cardinal is sounding ever more shrill as he appears to be losing the argument. These days, many view Equal Marriage as a human rights issue rather than something that one church should be able to rule out simply because of its own moral code. The time has come for the Scottish Government to legislate for Equal Marriage. If religious people do not want to conduct such marriages then that should be up to them – after all, no religious celebrant is ever forced to conduct any marriage currently and no religious celebrant will be forced to conduct a same-sex marriage if the law changes. The Roman Catholic Cardinal is not the moral arbiter of Scottish society. The decision about Equal Marriage should properly be taken by those elected to take it. The sooner that the Scottish Parliament gets a chance to vote for Equal Marriage the better. Marriage as an institution will be strengthened and reinforced as the gold-standard for human relationships when it is open to same-sex couples in the same way that it is currently open to couples of the opposite sex.