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Sunday, 4 March 2012

No Cardinal, it is bigotry that shames this country

Cardinal Keith O'Brien , the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, says the proposals to allow same-sex unions are “madness” and a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. He accuses ministers of trying to “redefine reality” and change long-standing laws and traditions “at the behest of a small minority of activists”. Proposals to allow gay marriage will to presented by Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone later this month. The Cardinal joins the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Carey in criticising the proposals. 

Speaking on the Andrew Marr programme, Conservative MP, Margot James confirmed that the church will not be forced to perform gay marriage but it is a civil matter. At the last Conservative party conference, the Prime Minister, David Cameron said “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.” Number 10 confirmed that Mr Cameron is "passionate" about the issue. 

Ms Feathestone said After Dr Carey's intervention that marriage is “owned by the people”. Cardinal O'Brien accuses ministers of showing “intolerance” and coming up with plans that would “shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world”. The intolerance and bigotry of certain sections of our society is the one thing that shames this country. 

It is not only in the church that the government faces opposition. After the Conservative MP, Peter Bone, informed the Commons that "gay marriage is completely nuts". They face a Commons rebellion of Conservative MPs over its gay marriage proposals. Some Tory ministers are among those opposed. Any vote is many months away and Labour would be almost certain to back the move. So it will pass into law by the 2015 on the government's timetable.

In my view, and to use Cardinal O'Brien's own words, it is the bigotry over this issue that brings "shame [on] the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world". Britain is supposed to be a tolerant country that welcomes different people and different cultures, that includes homosexuality. It is the twenty first century and a ban on a section of society from marrying simply because of their sexuality is wrong. 

It is not forcing the church to do anything, it is for civil marriage and nothing more. If two people love each other they should be able to have a civil marriage if that is what they want regardless of their sexual orientation. I would also like to see civil partnerships made available for heterosexual people who do not wish to marry but want to protect their partner, legally, should anything happen to them. The government must press on as it is the right thing to do.