Over the weekend, Cardinal Keith O'Brien said that same sex marriage would shame Scotland. Today the Archbishop of Paisley has described the idea as "cultural vandalism".
Frankly, I think that to allow equality in our marriage laws enshrines the liberal and tolerant values integral to our Scottish culture. No Church will be forced to offer marriage to same sex couples - that's an important part of the proposal accepted by the most fervent of equality campaigners. No Church has anything to fear so why Archbishop Tartaglia felt the need to use such strong language as this is beyond me:
"A government which favours and allows for same sex 'marriage' does wrong. It fails in its duty to society. It undermines the common good. It commits an act of cultural vandalism. Such a government does not deserve the trust which the nation, and including many in the Catholic community, has shown in it."That's pretty threatening language.
And although the Archbishop might imply that the Church would not support a Government which introduced same sex marriage, it can't deliver the votes of its members, many of whom, along with well over half the population, support equal marriage. And if he thinks that this issue alone would decide people's votes, he has another think coming.
I'm glad to see Willie Rennie stand up to the Archbishop's and Cardinal's strong words:
“I am disappointed that leaders of the Catholic Church in Scotland have threatened the Scottish Government over proposals to bring equality to marriage. Over six in ten people support same sex marriage, so to threaten politicians with the votes of 800,000 people of the Catholic faith may backfire on the Church.
“I can’t see how it is “cultural vandalism” to bring greater equality into Scottish society. Under the changes the Catholic Church, nor anyone else, will not be forced to conduct a same sex marriage ceremony but if they wish to the law will no longer stop them. That’s a very tolerant and fair approach to this issue. “Ten years ago politicians stood firm against the Catholic Church and others when they threatened the Parliament over Section 2a equality teaching, I hope the Scottish Parliament stands for what is right and fair again.”
This offensive by the Church shows how important it is that all of us who believe in equal marriage respond to the consultation by 9th December. I know, I know, I haven't done mine yet. But I will. And I have a diary full of nagging blog posts to make sure you all do too.