A New British Bishop with the “Smell of the Sheep”

Pope Francis made major headlines when he chose not to live in the Vatican palace, but in smaller rooms at……, to carry his own luggage, and to drive a battered used car. This is fully in keeping with the Gospels and the practice of the early church – but in marked contrast to the ostentation and sumptuary of some of his predeccors, and some bishops. He has recommended similar simple lifestyles for his bishops, saying that he preferred them as shepherds of the faithful, to have on them “the smell of the sheep”.

Not all bishops have yet taken on board this new corporate culture, but here’s one who very decidedly does – Bishop John Keenan, newly appointed to the see of Paisley, Scotland:

New Catholic bishop chooses to live in deprived housing scheme

 

AS Scotland’s newest Roman Catholic bishop he could easily have opted for the opulent residence set aside for a man in his position.

CULTURAL SHIFT: Bishop John Keenan has said he is moving in order to be closer to the deprived and excluded members of society. Picture: Jamie Simpson

But Bishop John Keenan, who grew up in a high-rise in Maryhill, Glasgow, has shunned the more comfortable address to move into a parish house in a housing scheme in an area of multiple deprivation.

Explaining his decision, Bishop Keenan said the Catholic church was going through a cultural shift and would have to “adapt and change in order to be close to the people of our times”.

His first move as the new Bishop of Paisley has seen him decline to take up the detached sandstone villa in the town, in Renfrewshire, used by his predecessors, and move instead to a church property in Greenock’s east end.

In his first wide-ranging interview since being installed last month, Bishop Keenan has told of his concern that those in destitution have been “abandoned by society and the church”, adding he would reflect “a church out on the street not one that’s comfortable in the chapel”.

Echoing the stamp put on Catholicism by Pope Francis, the 49-year-old said there were still structures within the church restricting its ability to reach out to those on the margins of society.

Bishop Keenan said: “Exclusion is a scandal for a country that calls itself Christian.”

He has also spoken of the need to strip some power and responsibility in the church away from the clergy and hand it to lay members, adding he supported the Pontiff’s call for a “new reformation” within Catholicism.

via Herald Scotland.

 

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Gay Marriage: Scottish (and other) Bishops, and the Catholic Backlash

Once again, Cardinal Keith O’Brien and the Scottish bishops are whipping up opposition to the plans for marriage equality in Scotland, with a strongly worded pastoral letter which was to be read in all parishes yesterday – declared by the bishops to be “National Marriage Sunday”. He also announced the creation of a National Commission for Marriage and the Family, “a body which will be charged with promoting the true nature of marriage, it will develop an online presence and produce materials and organise events which will help Catholic families to support and sustain marriage”. In an earlier intervention, O’Brien warned Alex Salmond and his government of a powerful Catholic backlash if he went ahead with his proposals for gay marriage. I greatly fear that the cardinal is correct: there will indeed be a powerful Catholic backlash. It will not be against the Scottish government, however, but against the authority of the Church and its bishops.

The Scottish bishops, and their counterparts in Minnesota, are among the most strident in their opposition to gay marriage, but they are far from alone. The bishops of England and Wales, of Maryland and Washington, of France, and of Australia and New Zealand, have all been organizing against pending marriage initiatives. They will lose all of these campaigns, if not in the immediately short term, then in the not too distant future. In 2009, the Bishop of Portland poured money into the campaign against equality in Maine. His efforts contributed to overturning the gay marriage legislation, but only temporarily. All indications are that the law will be re-instated at the ballot box in November. Tellingly, the Catholic Church in Maine is far less prominent in this particular struggle this time around, no doubt conscious of the deep divisions it created in the church the last time around.

Around the world, progress to LGBT equality and inclusion in the Church is steady. It is only eleven years since the Netherlands was the first country to introduce full marriage for same -  sex couples, but already that has extended to an additional twelve countries, and five states (plus DC) of the US.  Three more states could be added in November, and Finland, France and Colombia should join the list next year. Scotland and the full UK will follow soon after. New Zealand will begin debating legislation this week, and three Australian territories (Tasmania, South Australia and ACT) are proceeding with their own marriage plans, while the federal parliament dithers. In Mexico, the states of Coahuila and Quintana Roo are debating same-sex marriage bills for their areas, to join Mexico City. Later, gay marriage or civil marriage will come to a constantly expanding list of still more countries and territories.

Wherever research evidence exists, it suggests that unlike the bishops, many Catholics (in many areas, most Catholics) support LGBT equality, in ever increasing numbers – especially the youngest age groups. In say, ten years, when gay marriage will be well – established fact in all the jurisdictions I have listed, and families headed by male or female married couples no longer remarkable, how will the bishops deal with the situation? By then, many local churches will be conducting gay weddings, or have openly gay or lesbian ministers officiating at all weddings – just as the Lutheran church in Sweden, Iceland and Denmark, and some Episcopal/ Anglican dioceses, and the Unitarian and United Churches already do in North America. The longer the bishops maintain their implacable opposition, the more ludicrous it will seem to others (especially as those denominations that are moving towards accepting gay marriage and gay clergy are those in which decisions are taken by people with real – life experience of what marriage really is about, as opposed to the Catholic bishops entirely theoretical understanding from book knowledge).

The backlash already exists. In England, Chris  Morley wrote a few months ago about the angry response from pupils when the English bishops’ letter on gay marriage was read in schools. At the “Next Steps” workshop in June, I met a woman (let’s call her Margaret) who is not gay herself, but has an adult gay son. As a Scot, she had been so angered by Cardinal O’Brien’s earlier offensive rhetoric, that she vowed to commit herself to working for LGBT equality. She has become a regular and active participant in the Soho Masses, and joined our group in the rain for London’s World Pride procession. She has cancelled her previous standing order for her local parish, diverting the money instead to gay charities. There will be many more LGBT Catholics, their families and friends who have been similarly angered by the bishops’ stance. Perhaps not many will respond as strongly as Margaret has done, by attempting to work for change within the Church. Some will simply shrug their shoulders and get on with life as before, simply ignoring the bishops – but there will be many others for whom this will be the final straw, leading them to leave the church for more welcoming congregations, or to abandon the Christian faith entirely.

The bishops will no doubt maintain that it is more important to proclaim the truth than simply move with public opinion – but in this instance, just what is “the truth”? In the broader field of sexual ethics, it is now abundantly clear that it is emphatically not found in Vatican documents and the Catechism. Humanae Vitae has been widely rejected by Catholic couples, with no evidence whatsoever that it has achieved the necessary reception by the Church as a whole to be accepted as valid doctrine. By this rejection of the proposition that every genital act must be open to procreation, the entire structure of Vatican sexual doctrine is called into question. The evidence from research is that in many countries, most Catholics simply do not believe that homosexuality is even a moral issue. It also seems that a substantial proportion of Catholic moral theologians (and certainly a majority of those not controlled directly by the Vatican) agree that the entire doctrine needs substantial revision, with the emphasis moving from an obsession with genital acts, to a focus on the quality of the relationships.

Such a revision of moral theology, which will surely come, will undermine one of the foundations of the current opposition to change in the marriage laws, that marriage is necessarily for the purpose of procreation. The church is also bound by its own teaching to pay proper attention to the findings of the natural and human sciences (an obligation hitherto ignored in sexual matters, but which sooner or later will have to be addressed). That too will undermine the bishops’ understanding of marriage.

It may well be that there is a valid case for drawing a distinction in the sacrament of matrimony, between same – sex and opposite – sex couples. But as even  Catholic theologians and some bishops are moving towards an acceptance that there is value in loving and committed same – sex relationships, just as so many Protestant denominations are doing, Catholics should be giving serious thought to how we are to recognize that value, within the faith community. Instead of simply responding to moves to equality in civil marriage with outright condemnation, we should be engaging in serious discussions and listening to the people most affected by the change  - to LGBT couples themselves. When Protestants have done so, they have frequently found to their surprise that our relationships are remarkably similar in quality to their own marriages – and led to a change of heart on regulations governing gay and lesbian clergy, on blessing same – sex unions, and even on support for full gay marriage.

Catholic bishops do not have the advantage of personal experience of marriage, or of any openly acknowledged loving sexual relationships. That simply makes it more important that they listen to those that do. The Scottish bishops’ letter claims that the new National Commission for Marriage and the Family will prepare materials and events for “Catholic families” to sustain and support marriage. That should include provision for input for queer families – but will not do so.

Eventually, the Catholic Church will have to acknowledge that it has been wrong on homoerotic relationships. The longer it takes to do so, the more difficult it will be.

Books:

Boswell, John: Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe

Curoe, Carol Are There Closets in Heaven?; A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share their Story

Glaser, Chris: As My Own Soul: The Blessing of Same-Gender Marriage (Seabury Books)

Haldeman, S. “A Queer Fidelity: Reinventing Christian Marriage.” Theology and Sexuality 13.2: 137–52.

Jordan, Mark:  Blessing Same-Sex Unions: The Perils of Queer Romance and the Confusions of Christian Marriage

Jordan, Mark D.Meghan T. Sweeney, and David M. Mellott, editors. Authorizing Marriage?: Canon, Tradition, and Critique in the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

Kuefler, Mathew (ed.) The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality ’ 

Marshall, Paul VictorSame Sex Unions Stories and Rites

Stuart, Elisabeth: Just Good Friends: Towards a Lesbian and Gay Theology of Relationships

Sullivan, Andrew: Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality

Sullivan, Andrew: Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex, and Survival

Tigert, Leanne McCall, and Maren C. Tirabassi.All Whom God Has Joined: Resources for Clergy and Same-Gender Loving Couples  

 

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Scotland Schedules Marriage Equality by 2013, Resisting Catholic Bishops’ Pressure

The Scottish government has stood up to immense pressure from Catholic bishops and some other religious groups, and are moving ahead with plans for full marriage equality – including equality in church.  Legislation will be introduced later this year, and if approved, should take effect some time in 2013. (Also expected next year – full marriage equality in France, Finland, and Colombia).

The Scottish government is to introduce new powers to legalise same-sex marriages in churches and in civil ceremonies, despite vigorous and bitter opposition from church leaders.

A draft bill that will enable gay and lesbian couples to marry with the same legal rights as heterosexual couples will be published later this year and is expected to be enacted next year, after Scottish ministers resisted intense pressure from the Catholic church to drop the proposals.

-Guardian

Providing full marriage equality in church does not mean that the Scots have ignored the Church’s concerns – far from it. The statement notes the strength of religious objections, and stresses that due attention has been paid to them; same – sex weddings will be permitted for those denominations that want to celebrate them (the Quakers, Unitarians, MCC and Reformed Jews, for instance), but will not be imposed on those that do not.

This is a genuine application of true religious freedom, unlike the version promoted so ardently by Catholic bishops – the freedom for each religious grouping to conduct its affairs in accordance with their own beliefs – but no to allow any one group to impose its beliefs on those who disagree.

The legislation will include significant new protections and “conscience clauses” for churches and individual clergy who object to gay marriageon religious grounds, said Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy first minister.

“We believe that in a country that aspires to be an equal and tolerant society, as we do in Scotland, then this is the right thing to do,” Sturgeon said.

“However, we recognise and respect the concerns that some have expressed, in particular the concerns that have been expressed by the churches. We are determined that the legislation which is brought forward will include protection for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”

-Guardian

Just  yesterday, The British Prime Minister confirmed his own government’s determination to press ahead with plans for same – sex marriage legislation for the United Kingdom as a whole (although I’m not at all clear whether in terms of the somewhat bizarre British consitutional arrangements, this would really apply to all of the UK, or just to England and Wales, leaving out Northern Ireland) . The Scottish initiative will  undoutedly make things easier for Mr Cameron. By the time the Westinster parliament needs to vote on it (possibly not unitl 2014), equality will already be a fait accompli north of the border.

The Westminster plan as it stands, differs from the Scottish model in one important respect: it explicitly does not make any provision for gay weddings in church, even for those gruops that want it. There are notable forces at work, lobbying to have equaoity in church added to the plans, even so. The Scottish example could add strength to their arguments.

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Equal Marriage – Scotland goes ahead of England and Wales

Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, the Scottish campaign for marriage equality, thinks Scotland could make marriage equality lawful by the end of next year. Scotland has already completed its public consultation and has bolder plans for change. Meanwhile the consultation on marriage equality for lesbians, bisexuals and gay men and transgender people in England and Wales doesn’t end until mid June. Scotland plans to move more boldly: it plans to allow churches and other faith groups to be able to celebrate LGBT weddings if they choose to offer these. The coalition government for England and Wales has set its face against any such freedom of religion.

Catholics for equality rainbow graphicOn the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme on Sunday, the Conservative Defence Secretary, Phillip Hammond, said marriage equality was “clearly not the number one priority” in England and Wales, because it was not included in the Queen’s Speech plans for new laws this session of Parliament. This is hardly surprising when the public consultation doesn’t end until 14th June. However the coalition Equalities Minister has reassured campaigners in England and Wales that the government is still firmly behind the proposals for marriage equality.

Have your say on the England and Wales marriage equality consultation here.

Scotland takes the marriage equality lead

Scotland Speak Out For Marriage Equality

GayStarNews has just published a major feature on the lead Scotland is taking on marriage equality. Scotland’s lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender marriage proposals are ahead of England and Wales in several ways, most especially because Scotland plans to allow religious ceremonies to be offered by any faith-based organisations which chooses this, while faiths that disagree won’t be forced to provide LGBT weddings. Scottish same-sex marriage campaigners are therefore calling on the Scottish government to show it means what it says now, and lead the way on marriage equality for the UK.

If Scotland does what it plans and allows churches and faiths to offer LGBT marriages, that would make it harder for Westminster to prevent faiths in England and Wales from offering this.

(more…)

Scottish Faith Groups want to offer Same-Sex Weddings

A broad alliance of faith groups has published an open letter, sent to all Members of Scottish Parliament, demanding the right to conduct weddings for same-sex couples.

Faith in Marriage

Faith in Marriage rally of Scottish faith groups keen to offer lesbian and gay weddings

The alliance, called Faith in Marriage, include members of the United Reformed Church, the Quakers, the Unitarians, Buddhists, the Pagan Federation, Liberal Judaism, the Iona Community, the Open Episcopal Church, and the Metropolitan Community Church.

 

Civil Partnerships just not good enough, and ‘freedom of belief’ requires marriage

The alliance said that civil partnerships were not good enough, are discriminatory, and therefore are “an unacceptable infringement by the state on our freedom of religion and belief.”

freedom of religion means the right to gay marriage

my freedom of religion means my right to gay marriage

Faith in Marriage was set up as a response to the anti-equality Scotland for Marriage, which is made up of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, the Christian Institute, the Evangelical Alliance and Destiny Churches. The Church of Scotland hasn’t joined it but also opposes lesbian and gay marriage. Scotland for Marriage is leafleting every household in Glasgow against the proposals before the local elections on Thursday, at a cost of £15,000. They also plan to use mobile advertising vans against lesbian and gay marriage.

‘We demand religious weddings’ says letter to Members of the Scottish Parliament

(more…)

Scottish Catholic Education Service opposes gay marriage

The Scottish Catholic Education Commission is insisting that the Scottish Government proposals for marriage equality will make it impossible for teachers in Catholic schools to teach about marriage in line with Catholic marriage doctrines, and it opposes any church or faith in Scotland being allowed to offer lesbian and gay weddings if they want to.

Equal marriage in Scotland

This follows the English and Welsh Catholic Education Service (CES) being put under investigation by officials of Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, for political campaigning against marriage equality because the CES asked schools to persuade pupils to sign a political petition on marriage.

The Scottish Catholic Education Commission has used the Scottish Herald to trumpet its views opposing the marriage equality plans of the Scottish government, a few days before Michael Russell, the Scottish Education Secretary, speaks at the annual conference of the Catholic Headteachers’ Association of Scotland.

Scottish Catholic Education Commission logo

Churches can Choose to Celebrate Marriages

The Scottish Government’s consultation asks whether the law should allow churches to hold lesbian and gay weddings if the Church wants to. Currently, lesbian and gay couples can form a civil partnership, but in Scotland the ceremony cannot be held in a church or other religious premises. [The law is different in England and Wales, where Civil Partnerships can now be held in Churches that choose to offer to host these].

The Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland are reported in the Scottish Herald to oppose holding lesbian and gay weddings in any Churches or faith premises.

Homophobia is not cool, chalked onto a playground by two school children

(more…)

Now you have your say on plans for Gay Civil Marriage Equality

The Government’s plans for civil marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples have now been published. You have 12 weeks until 14 June 2012 to send in your views.

The plan is to change the law in England and Wales only so the first lesbian and gay couples can have a civil wedding, some time before the next general election which is planned for early May 2015. Scotland’s consultation on its own plans for same sex civil marriage has just ended and the Scottish Parliament will make those law changes. There are no plans yet for civil gay marriages in Northern Ireland, but civil partnerships are available.

Two wedding rings shown against a rainbow flag

Gay wedding rings

  • The ban on same sex couples marrying in a civil ceremony will be ended. The same civil ceremony will be used for both heterosexual and lesbian and gay couples.
  • The legal reasons for ending both civil partnerships and civil gay marriages will be made the same as for heterosexual marriages. This means adultery and non-consummation will then be grounds for ending same sex relationships, as they already are for heterosexual marriages. The courts will be left to decide what adultery and non-consummation mean in same sex relationships. It is likely Courts will apply the same legal principles that are used in heterosexual divorces on these grounds.
  • There will be NO changes to how religious organisations solemnize marriages: these will continue to ONLY be available for heterosexual couples. There will be no change to how religious organisations define religious marriage.
  • The new law for civil gay marriages will make it clear that no religious organisation can hold a religious marriage ceremony in religious premises for same sex couples
    couple demonstrating as clergy for same sex marriage

    Some faith groups want to offer same sex marriages in their religious premises

    .

 

  • This means faith groups like the Society of Friends (Quakers), Liberal and Reform Jewish Congregations, Unitarians, Metropolitan Community Church, and others, which would like to offer religious same sex weddings in their religious premises, will NOT be allowed to do so. In your answer to Question 5, you could explain why and if you think this should be allowed. Also see the second to last bullet dot below. The government is likely to strongly resist any calls for such change. But what you don’t ask for you won’t get, and at some stage, if not now, further law reform along these lines will be needed.
  • Transsexual people will now be allowed to change their legal gender identity without having to legally end their existing marriage or civil partnership.
  • Lesbian and gay couples will still be able to have a civil partnership in the proposals. Question 6 asks if you agree that the right to choose to have a same sex civil partnerships should be kept, or not. The government does NOT propose allowing heterosexual couples to choose to have a civil partnership instead of a civil marriage. BUT Question 8 asks if you think heterosexual couples SHOULD also be allowed to choose a civil partnership if they want.
  • Married couples and civil partnership rights and responsibilities are already similar, but there are some differences, such as the eligibility for some pension rights, ending a relationship on the grounds of adultery and non-consummation, and courtesy titles. The government will work out how reduce or eliminate these remaining differences later.
  • Civil same sex marriages will only be held in secular premises. Same sex couples can already have (since December 2011) a civil partnership secular ceremony of registration in certain religious buildings. Only faith groups which want to host civil partnership registrations can offer this. There is no plan to change this law and the existing ban on any religious elements forming part of the civil partnership registration will continue. There is no question which asks what you think of this, but you could comment on this in reply to Question 5.
  • Existing couples in a civil partnership will be able to ‘convert’ their civil partnership into a civil marriage, at low cost. Question 9 asks would you convert yours? Question 10 asks if there should be any time limit on making these conversions. Question 11 asks if there should be a ceremony for converting civil partnerships to gay marriages.

There are 16 questions, but you only have to answer the ones you want.

Consultation proposals and REPLY ONLINE

By Post Government Equalities Office, 3rd Floor Fry, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

By email equalmarriage@geo.gsi.gov.uk

by 14 June 2012 

 

BBC News report

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A Scottish Catholic Lesbian Replies to Cardinal O’Brien.

Frances Traynor is a Scottish lesbian, raised in the Catholic Church, but alienated by it. She also has an uncle who is a Catholic priest. In a moving personal testimony, she contrasts the offensive stance of the Catholic Primate of Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, with the sane and compassionate response of her uncle the priest.

Here are two extracts. (Read the full testimony at The Daily Record)

I was raised as a Catholic. I’d lost what faith I had in the Church and God by my teens, but I hadn’t shaken off a lifetime of conditioning by the time I was ready to accept my sexuality.

Telling my parents was the hardest thing of all, because of their faith and their beliefs. They were devastated, confused and concerned that they might have done something wrong.

They were fearful for me and worried about how other people would react to me.

It took wise words from mum’s brother, Andrew, to reassure them that it was OK, I was still me and nothing had changed except that I was finally being honest with the world.

Andrew is a Catholic priest.

He is the most compassionate and Christian of men, someone who understands the human condition in all its flawed and beautiful states.

He is no plaster saint. He has made mistakes and, because he accepts and acknowledges his frailties, he is all the more understanding of those who come to him for guidance, spiritual or otherwise.

His faith in his God has never wavered, although his faith inhis Church has been tested many times, particularly over the child abuse scandals and appalling cover-ups.

I’m on the outside looking in at the Catholic Church now.

I never needed any kind of blessing or recognition from the Church for the most important relationship in my life.

But many gay and lesbian Catholics do need and want it. They will never get it from men such as Cardinal O’Brien, who described civil partnerships as “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved”.

That kind of homophobic ignorance must be challenged.

 

Ignorance, inequality and intolerance are what are most harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of gays and lesbians.

For the sake of any gay Catholic (or follower of any other faith) struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, I hope the pastor they turn to for spiritual guidance and comfort is one like Andrew, not like the cardinal.

 

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Gay Marriage Advances: Washington, Scotland.

In Washington, the state Senate has approved legislation for the legal recognition of same – sex marriage, with votes to spare and bipartisan support – four Republican senators voted in favour.  The bill now goes to the  House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass easily. Governor Chris Gregoire, a Catholic, has already given it her backing, and will sign it. The real test will come later: opponents have already promised to put the measure to voters at the ballot box. They may struggle though: a poll last October showed that 55% of voters would vote in favour of equality. Given clear evidence that support for equality is rising steadily, that will increase by November this year. Even allowing for the historical pattern where actual votes cast against exceed opinion poll estimates, this will be a tough one for NOM and their allies to pull off, with their depleted resources spread across several other states simultaneously.

With votes to spare, the state Senate passed a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry in Washington, sending it to the House of Representatives where it also has enough votes to pass.
A full gallery erupted after senators passionately but respectfully debated what Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle called “as contentious as any this body has considered, then passed it on a 28-21 vote.
Those who oppose it should not be accused of bigotry, Murray said. Those who support it should not be accused of religious intolerance.
“This is a difficult personal issue because it is about what is closest to us…family. Marriage is how society says you are a family.”

- Spokesman Review

(Before the bill passed in the Senate, the Bellingham Herald carried an informative analysis of the detail of the bill – implications for out of state couples wanting to marry in Washington or relocate, for those who are currently in civil unions or domestic partnerships, for churches, and more.)

In Scotland, support is overwhelming, and the issues are quite different. The Scottish government has now completed its consultation process, and leaders of all the Scottish political parties have agreed to support it in principle. (Opinion polls show that public support is overwhelming). The only remaining difficulties are of detail, and procedure. Marriage equality should come to Scotland some time in 2o13.

 

Scotland is likely to have full marriage equality by the end of 2013 at the latest, Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network told PinkNews.co.uk at a reception in the Scottish Parliament yesterday evening.

400 people attended the reception after all opposition party leaders signed up to the Equal Marriage Pledge.

The Scottish government, led by the Scottish National Party, concluded public consultation on equal marriage on 9 December. It was the government’s largest ever public consultation, with over 50,000 responses.

It will now analyse the feedback and publish their response in spring along with a draft bill, which will be open for expert consultation and voting by mid-2013, expected to pass as law by the end of 2013.

-Pink News

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Two-thirds of Scots support gay marriage 

 

EQUALITY campaigners have called for swift legislation to allow Scots the right to same-sex marriages, after a new study showed the number who support the move has soared.

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey has revealed that in 2010 almost two-thirds of people (61%) supported same-sex marriage, up from 41% in 2002.

The report comes after a split emerged in the SNP over the issue of same-sex marriages. SNP MEP Alyn Smith criticised colleagues only days after John Mason, a nationalist colleague tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament, backed by three other nationalist MSPs, stating that no one should be forced to approve of same-sex marriage.

The survey also asked whether “gay or lesbian couples should have the right to marry one another if they want to”. Just 19% disagreed, while 18% neither agreed nor disagreed.

- Herald Scotland

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