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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 27 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 30
Scottish government promises marriage equality by 2015
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Scottish government promises marriage equality by 2015

Glasgow archbishop opposed; insults dead Gay official

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Scottish government announced July 25 that it would introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, with marriages beginning by January 2015.

The Scottish Nationalist Party, which is proposing the legislation, controls 67 votes out of 129 in the Scottish parliament and should have no trouble passing the bill.

When it is passed, the marriage bill would make Scotland the first part of the United Kingdom to legalize same-sex marriages.

Scotland and Northern Ireland are internally self-governing, with their own parliaments. The British parliament in London legislates only for England and Wales in matters such as marriage laws. However, Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, changes to the U.K. Equality Act are needed for Scottish legislation to be effective.

The British Home Office said that would not be an obstacle.

'If changes are needed, they will be made,' a Home Office spokesperson said.

The Scottish government's announcement was made in after a public consultation that produced a record 77,508 responses. Some 64% of those who responded by postcard and petition said they were against same-sex marriage, while 65% of those who responded in some other way were in favor and only 35% against.

The Church of Scotland - a Presbyterian church - and the Roman Catholic Church cooperated to run a petition campaign against the legislation.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, called on the government to submit the marriage bill to a referendum, but the government rejected his demand.

O'Brien has branded marriage equality a 'grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.'

The cardinal also authorized a plan to raise £100,000 (about $150,000) through special church collections to support the 'Scotland for Marriage' campaign against same-sex marriage.

The proposed legislation has been backed by a 'rainbow coalition' of organizations, including the Equality Network, Amnesty International, Unison, and the Humanist Society of Scotland, as well as political parties.

Many religious denominations, including the United Reformed Church, the Quakers, Buddhists, and the Pagan Federation, also support the move.

On the same day that the government made its historic announcement, the newly appointed Roman Catholic archbishop of Glasgow became embroiled in a nasty public controversy over remarks he had made at a university conference in April.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia blamed the death of a Gay member of parliament, David Cairns, on his sexuality.

'Recently in Scotland there was a Gay Catholic MP who died at the age of 44 or so and nobody said anything and why his body should just shut down at that age, obviously he could have had a disease which would have killed anyone, but you seem to hear so many stories about this kind of thing,' Tartaglia told an audience at Oxford. 'But society won't address it.'

Cairns' partner, Dermot Kehoe, told BBC Radio Scotland's 'Good Morning Scotland' program that the archbishop had added to his 'grief and pain' and should resign.

'The Archbishop-elect brought up David Cairns himself. He wasn't asked about him - he chose to bring him up and essentially he implied that David's death was due in some way to homosexuality and his being Gay,' Kehoe said.

'This is in complete ignorance of the facts in this case.'

Kehoe added that to take a personal tragedy and to make it political 'was more than upsetting - it is deeply painful & This has not only upset me and David's family, but it added to our grief and pain and [Tartaglia] hasn't shown any contrition for doing this.'

'He [Tartaglia] is sorry for any hurt which has resulted,' a spokesperson for the archbishop said. 'There was certainly no offense or judgment intended in his words.'

Cairns, who was also an ordained Catholic priest, died last year of acute pancreatitis.

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