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Cardinal Keith O'Brien only represents centuries-old bigotry and homophobia

23rd July 2012

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Scotland's leading Catholic, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, is calling on the Scottish Government to put the issue of equal marriage into the hands of the electorate, and hold a referendum on whether married homosexual couples should be allowed to have the same legal status as heterosexual couples.

The Cardinal said that a referendum should be held because of the high levels if public interest in the issue, following the 77,000 responses to the Scottish Government's public consultation on equal marriage, three times the number of responses to the Government's public consultation on Scottish independence.

What Cardinal O'Brien did not appreciate was the fact that approximately 60% of the responses were in favour of allowing gay couples to marry, and only approximately 19% opposed to the idea.

The Scottish Government promptly dismissed Cardinal O'Brien's call for a public vote, but it refused to be held on when, if at all, a vote in the Parliament would take place. Despite this, all the opposition parties at Holyrood are in favour of voting through any equal marriage legislation.

Clearly there is a public demand to see married homosexual couples recognised in law as equal to those of married heterosexual couples, so why is Cardinal O'Brien so vocal in his opposition?

Cardinal O'Brien's reasoning for opposing the issue is rooted in centuries-old bigotry which continues to exist in modern Christianity, in both Catholic and Protestant forms. The Catholic Church is not solely opposed to equal marriage in Scotland, as the Presbyterian Church of Scotland has also denounced any plans to recognise the joining of a gay couple as 'marriage' in Scots' law.

However, Cardinal O'Brien has been the leading and most vocal opponent of equal marriage in Scotland, and has aired his views in many leading Scottish media outlets.

In a recent article for The Scotsman newspaper, Cardinal O'Brien wrote: Do (the public) realise that a public sector duty to promote the new vision of equality will cast grave doubt on the ability of Catholic schools to uphold their own ethos? Do they really understand that equality laws have been so structured that it will enforce public sector workers to promote an understanding of marriage that leaves no room outside the government- dictated morality?”

Ah, yes, the argument of state-dictated morality.

Frankly, Cardinal, if we had stuck to the argument that various groups, whether they be religious or not, should have the right to teach children their beliefs, no matter how discriminatory they may be, then Catholic schools would still be teaching pupils that the Earth is flat, that God created the world in six days, that the Earth is between six and ten-thousand years old, that dinosaurs did not exist, that it is reasonable to lock unmarried mothers up in mental institutions, that it is acceptable to move paedophile priests from parish to parish to avoid detection by the authorities, and so on.

Perhaps if the Cardinal feels so strongly about the matter, and an equal marriage bill is put into law in Scotland, he can petition to have Catholic schools in Scotland removed from state control and state funding, and have them privatised instead?

Now, this may seem to you like the ramblings of a furious athiest, and you would be mostly correct in that assumption, however, as someone raised in a Catholic family, who attended Catholic state schools, yet who 'lost their faith' many years ago, I have some understanding of the Catholic Church and it's teachings. To give you an example from my own past, when I was in my final year of secondary school, my year group was informed by a, celibate, priest that 'condoms fail 100% of the time'. I kid you not.

Perhaps the Catholic Church is not correct in all of it's teachings.

It is a simple matter of allowing two people who love each other, heterosexual or homosexual, to have their marriage recognised equally in law, and receiving all the relevant benefits of such recognition. The Catholic Church's official position seems to be that any move to improve the situation of the LGBT community would be one which further 'breaks down the traditional family unit', and 'attacks the sanctity of marriage'. The Church has been openly opposed, not only to gay marriage, but also allowing homosexual couples to adopt. Yes, because a homosexual can't bring up a child, can they? They just wouldn't know what to do with it, seeing as their minds are apparently wired differently to those of heterosexual people. Surely the child would just get in the way of all their Wizard of Oz marathons and attending all those George Michael concerts? 

Obviously, I'm being sarcastic, but the point remains: if you love someone, you deserve the right to marry them and profess to the world how much you love that person, regardless of your sexuality.

Of course, something which is being completely ignored by religious types, and others opposed to equal marriage, is that any equal marriage legislation would improve the legal status of heterosexual couples, too. It would allow them to take part in a Civil Partnership, which is currently the only available route to take for homosexual couples, as opposed to going full out and getting married. Thus, both heterosexual and homosexual couples would share equal legal status in marriage and partnership. I certainly don't hear Cardinal O'Brien decrying such a measure as 'destroying the institution of marriage'.

I would like to believe that I can honestly say that Cardinal Keith O'Brien, and the leadership of the Catholic Church, do not represent the opinion of the majority of Catholics in Scotland on the matter of gay marriage. I am certain that there are thousands of Catholics in Scotland who are deeply opposed to the marriage of gay couples, but I do not think that they make up the significant majority. It is not Catholicism which I am attacking here, but the organised Roman Catholic Church, which has been out of touch on major social issues for the best part of a century, and is almost totally unwilling to reform itself in any way, at the highest level, which will move it into the 21st Century.

I do not see why ordained Catholic ministers, regardless of rank or position, who have sworn to celibacy and to remain single, have any right to dictate to others on matters involving relationships or sex.

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