Scottish Cabinet Discussing Gay Marriage

The Scottish cabinet is expected to discuss plans to legislate for same-sex marriage when it meets later.

SNP ministers, who favour the move, are due to announce legislation this week in the wake of a consultation which resulted in 80,000 responses.

The proposals, which would see Scotland become the first part of the UK to introduce the policy, have provoked opposition from some religious groups.

The Catholic Church and Church of Scotland strongly oppose the policy.

Same-sex couples in Scotland currently have the option to enter into civil partnerships and the Holyrood government has insisted no part of the religious community would be forced to hold same-sex weddings in churches.

The introduction of gay marriage has been backed by a “rainbow coalition” of organisations, including The Equality Network, Amnesty International, Unison and the Humanist Society of Scotland, as well as political parties.

Faith groups, including the United Reformed Church, the Quakers, Buddhists and the Pagan Federation also support the move

– BBC News.

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The conservative case for gay marriage

The current debate on legalising gay marriage was sparked by one of the more memorable speeches of this Government, when 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.”

What has been missing from the debate since that speech has been a convincing, measured discussion from the political right on what he meant. Until now, that is. Today the Policy Exchange, a leading conservative think tank thank, has published What’s In A Name? Is there a case for equal marriage? Don’t be fooled by the question mark in the title. This report represents the best and most carefully considered case for equal marriage from a conservative (with a small ‘c’) perspective so far.

-full blog post at  UK Human Rights Blog.

The full (61 page) Policy Exchange report in PDF format is  at  What’s In A Name? Is there a case for equal marriage?

Contents are:

About the Authors       2
Contents           3
Acknowledgments       4
Introduction       5
1  A Brief History of Marriage     8
2  Why marriage matters            12
3  Is there a conservative case for equal marriage?   16
4  Equal Marriage as Equality Before The Law?     28
5  Evaluating the arguments against equal marriage    33
6  The International Experience      45
7  The Practical Implications of Equal Marriage     51

Conclusion   58

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Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts to allow clergy to bless gay couples

Starting in December, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts will let clergy bless gay couples, a change announced after a national Episcopalian convention this month approved a new rite for same-sex relationships.

The diocese will continue to forbid clergy from performing gay marriages, something its Eastern Massachusetts counterpart allows. But in an interview last week, the incoming Western Massachusetts bishop said he plans on asking worshipers whether they want to revisit the prohibition.

By a wide margin, Episcopalians at this month’s national General Convention approved a new rite blessing same-sex relationships. Each diocese in the country can decide whether to perform the blessing.

Following the convention, the Diocese of Western Massachusetts announced it would give parishes the option to perform the same-sex blessing.

Bishop-elect Douglas John Fisher, who will succeed Bishop Gordon Paul Scruton in December, called the resolution “a big move in the right direction.”

“This is a great development for our gay brothers and sisters, and we hope to celebrate that with them starting in December,” Fisher said in an interview.

While the new ritual will not constitute nuptials, Fisher left open the possibility the diocese may ultimately approve gay marriage, following the lead of the Eastern Massachusetts diocese, which sanctioned such services in 2009.

“When I get there, I’ll certainly be having those conversations,” said Fisher, currently rector of Grace Church in Millbrook, N.Y. “We’ll see where all of that leads.”

– full report at  The Boston Globe.

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Cardinal Calls for Gay Marriage Referendum

THE Catholic Church will today intensify pressure on Alex Salmond over same-sex marriage by calling for a referendum on the proposals, before the First Minister’s flagship independence vote.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has attacked SNP plans.

The leader of Scotland’s Catholics, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has warned the First Minister that “far more people” are concerned about same-sex ceremonies than independence.

A spokesman for the Church told The Herald it wanted a public vote on the issue before a referendum on independence.

Ministers are expected to announce proposals for gay marriage after a Cabinet meeting tomorrow. They are under intense pressure from opponents, including campaign groups and churches. More than 27,000 people have signed a petition against the plans.

However, the First Minister is facing calls from many within his own party to press ahead with the proposals. At the weekend Jim Eadie, the SNP Edinburgh Southern MSP, said: “The message to the Scottish Government should be: ‘Stand firm, hold your nerve.'”

Muslim leaders and the Catholic Church have denounced the plans and accused Scottish ministers of offering “worthless” assurances over opt-outs.

Cardinal O’Brien, who has previously described the proposals as madness, specifically linked gay marriage and independence in a statement last night calling for a referendum.

He pointed out that almost 80,000 people responded to an official consultation on same-sex marriage while 26,000 have responded to the one on independence.

Cardinal O’Brien said: “The Scottish Government’s consultation on redefining marriage had three times more respondents than the consultation on the constitution, demonstrating clearly that far more people are concerned about fundamental matters of morality at the present time.

“Clearly, if it is sensible to hold a referendum on independence, it is crucial we have one on marriage. It is the only way the country can move forward on this issue. Let all those who have a view on this subject place their trust in the Scottish people and let Scotland decide.”

-full report at   Herald Scotland.

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U.S. Presbyterian Church at crossroads over gay marriage | Reuters

Midwestern minister Greg Smith is considering an act of ecclesiastical disobedience.

Deeply sympathetic to gay rights since his son, Matty, came out as gay a decade ago, the lifelong Presbyterian told his son he will officiate at his wedding, defying church policy.

“I believe that we’re doing more harm than good prolonging the inevitable,” said Smith, who at 64 is retired but still ministers in Des Moines, Iowa.

“On this issue, there is no mechanism for pastors to express conscientious objection without either defying church authority or demitting from one’s pastoral call. And that’s extremely stressful and distressing.”

Like many other denominations, the Presbyterian Church(U.S.A.), the 10th largest U.S. religion according to the National Council of Churches, is in the grips of a crisis over gay marriage.

The 2.7-million-strong church has lost about 500,000 members over the last decade, and church leaders fear that an endorsement of same-sex marriage could spur an exodus of Christians who view it as incompatible with biblical teachings.

But failing to act could mean the church is viewed as irrelevant and homophobic by young and progressive members.

Earlier this month at its General Assembly, a gathering held every two years, church leaders rejected a constitutional change, by a vote of 338-308, that would have defined marriage as between two people, rather than a man and a woman.

Some have said the church was moving too fast. Just two years ago, the church agreed to open the ranks of its clergy to homosexuals, prompting dozens of congregations to split off to join more conservative denominations or to form their own.

“The Assembly was trying to hold together a broken church with both hands, trying to honor people on both ends of the spectrum who feel pain around the issues of marriage,” said Reverend Aimee Moiso, who led the assembly’s committee on marriage.

“But we did manage something miraculous: In a polarized church and nation, we spent several days trying to figure out a way to stay together across our divisions,” she said.

– more at Reuters.

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Gay, Christian, and Proud in Love Free or Die.

Winning a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, Love Free or Die has already become a pivotal film this year as President Obama has embraced its subject matter: gay marriage. Even more timely, the Episcopal Church has just approved a same sex blessing service.

The documentary follows Gene Robinson, the first openly gay ordained Bishop who becomes a symbol of both LGBT pioneering and exemplary Christian values of compassion, forgiveness and tolerance.

From Robinson’s chronicles of discrimination abroad to his relationship with his partner Mark, the film takes a personal look at the role faith plays in his and others’ lives, brushing aside the notion that Christianity is only for fundamentalists and evangelicals. Compelling for secular audiences and non-LGBT viewers, the film finds that the greater love that guides people must be shared.

Robinson has faced so much open hatred for his lifestyle that he wore a bullet proof vest to his own consecration. The film shows Robinson discovering another plot on his life, prompting deep questioning and thanks to above. Bishop Robinson was invited by Barack Obama to give the invocation at the opening inaugural ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009.

This scene of Bishop Robinson speaking before serving cups of water at the Gay Pride Parade is riveting, and a rallying cry that should be seen in its entirety and taken to heart.

–  full report by John Wellington Ellis, at Huffington Post.

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Lesbian couple to take vows in nation’s first public Buddhist same-sex union

Two devout Buddhist women are to hold the nation’s first gay Buddhist wedding next month as part of an effort to push for the legalization of same-sex marriages in Taiwan.

“We are not only doing it for ourselves, but also for other gays and lesbians,” Fish Huang said in a telephone interview.

The 30-year-old social worker at a non-governmental organization said that marriage never crossed her mind until she saw a movie last year.

The film portrayed two lesbians whose ill-fated relationship concluded after one died and the other was left heartbroken over the denial of spousal benefits.

“It’s so sad,” Huang said, who plans to wed her partner of seven years on Aug. 11 at a Buddhist altar in Taoyuan County.

Both brides are planning to wear white wedding gowns and listen to lectures given by Buddhist masters about marriage, accompanied by a series of chantings and blessings from monks and nuns.

Although homosexual marriages are not legally recognized in Taiwan, Huang insisted on tying the knot because she wants to make her relationship complete and raise awareness about the difficulties faced by sexual minorities.

Alternative sexual orientation and marriage have yet to be widely accepted by the general public, despite years of effort by activists to secure equality in Taiwan.

The first public gay marriage in Taiwan took place in 1996 between a local writer and his foreign partner. The event drew widespread media attention and inspired many gays to follow their footsteps.

Huang’s wedding, however, will be the first with a Buddhist theme.

 – more at  Taipei Times.

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In Sleepy Minnesota Suburbs, Church Ladies Launch Gay Marriage Crusade

The southwest Minneapolis suburbs of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie bring to mind Garrison Keillor’s tales from Lake Wobegon: They’re lined with well-maintained homes and tree-lined roundabouts, and home to residents of largely German and Scandinavian ancestry. But the ladies of these towns have quietly begun a revolt — one fought with rainbow flags and a Minnesota nice attitude.

The women, mostly in their 40s and 50s, come from different political parties, religious views, and backgrounds, but they’ve united to fight what many of them call an embarrassment to Minnesota: a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage that will appear on the ballot this November. Minnesota is the 31st state to include such a measure on a ballot, despite a strong LGBT community in Minneapolis, which was named the “gayest city in America” by Advocate Magazine in January 2011.

Throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, pro-gay activism is the norm — conservative lawn signs are strikingly few. The state’s liberal, urban voters have been fighting the amendment for over a year now. Minnesotans United for All Families, a coalition of 520 businesses and religious organizations based mostly in the Twin Cities, has raised $3.1 million to fight the ban.

But in the bedroom communities of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka, billboards promoting right-wing candidates and talk show hosts frequently pop up between car dealerships and golf clubs. A sudden proliferation of rainbow flags has made these neighborhoods into unexpected battlegrounds in the state’s marriage fight

-full report at Advocate

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Ireland’s deputy PM says ‘time has come’ for gay marriage

Eamon Gilmore backs same-sex marriage, branding it the ‘civil rights issue of this generation’

02 JULY 2012 | BY MATTHEW JENKIN

Ireland’s deputy prime minister Eamon Gilmore has publicly backed gay marriage, calling it the ‘civil rights issue of this generation’.

The Tánaiste has joined world leaders such as Barack Obama in calling for same-sex marriage to be recognized and said the issue would be discussed by the government during Constitutional Convention talks later this year.

Speaking in Dublin, he also congratulated organizers of the city’s gay pride celebrations, which saw 30,000 take part in the main parade on Saturday (30 June).

‘I don’t believe for example, that it should ever be the role of the state to pass judgement on whom a person falls in love with, or whom they want to spend their life with,’ he said, reported the Irish Examiner.

‘I believe in gay marriage. The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation, and, in my opinion, its time has come.’

Ireland’s Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) has welcomed Gilmore’s support for gay marriage, saying his views are now more in step with public opinion.

‘The huge popular enthusiasm and support for civil partnerships across the country and the polls showing 73% public support, demonstrate that Ireland is ready to move to civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples,’ said Kieran Rose, GLEN chairman.

Rose added that all political parties are now behind LGBT equality.

He added: ‘To move to marriage now and provide full constitutional equality for lesbian and gay people is not a massive legislative leap; it is an incremental step building on the success of our civil partnership legislation.

‘The forthcoming Constitutional Convention provides a further opportunity to tease out any issues and to further build a solid consensus for civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples.’

via Ireland’s deputy PM says ‘time has come’ for gay marriage | Gay Star News.

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Cardinal Keith O’Brien declares war on gay marriage

Leader of Scotland’s Roman Catholic Church has promised an ‘unprecedented backlash’ if marriage equality is legalized

08 JULY 2012 | BY JOE MORGAN

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the man that compared legalizing gay marriage with bringing back slavery, has declared war.

The leader of Scottish Roman Catholic Church has warned of an unprecedented backlash if Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, presses ahead with plans to legalize gay marriage.

The Sunday Times reports O’Brien has revealed a strongly-worded letter to be read out on 26 August, on a day he calls ‘Support Marriage Sunday’, in each of the church’s 500 Scottish parishes.

It will urge Catholics to donate money to help fund a £100,000 advertising campaign against the plans.

O’Brien said: ‘Marriage is under threat and politicians need to know the Catholic Church will bear any burden and meeting any cost in its defense.’

‘We will use this opportunity to remind Catholics of the importance of marriage as a union of a man and a woman and to urge them to be generous in contributing to a special collection which will be used to support initiatives in defense of marriage,’ he added.

Scotland’s ministers will announce the results of the wide spreading consultation this month, with a finalized bill likely to appear by 2013.

Unlike England and Wales’ legislation, it is planned Scottish churches will be able to bless gay unions but would be free to opt-out.

A Catholic Church spokesman said: ‘This is a straight-forward plan by the church to up the stakes in the war on gay marriage.’

In a recent Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, there was 61% support for the legislation and just 19% opposition.

via Gay Star News.

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