Scotland: SNP local chair quits over Scottish equal marriage proposals

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A Scottish National Party official has resigned after 22 years, and said that one of his reasons for doing so was Alex Salmond’s plans to legalise equal marriage.

Andrew Walker, who was the secretary of the SNP branch in the Western Isles, said he, and many Scottish people were opposed to equal marriage, and that the Scottish government had ignored “the views of the majority” on the issue.  

Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond said in November that he hadn’t changed his mind, and that he wanted to press ahead with plans to legalise same-sex marriage.

Results published by the Scottish government last year, of its previous consultation on the issue revealed that 64% were against equal marriage with 35% for.

When responses from outside Scotland were factored in, standard consultation responses were split 49% in favour and 50% opposed.

A current consultation on its draft legislation – opposed by the Church of Scotland and the nation’s Catholic Church – will last until March.

Mr Walker said: “The announcement to proceed with changing the law was on the same day that the result of the consultation was announced with 64 per cent of Scots who responded indicating they were against a change in the law – 77,508 people responded to the consultation, three times the number who gave their views on the independence referendum.”

His decision to resign, and to cancel his membership to the SNP, was over disagreements over other national and local party policies.

Two other SNP activists also resigned recently. In August, Robert Stewart, an SNP member for 22 years resigned over equal marriage, deeming the decision to push forward on it “undemocratic”.

Liz Fordyce, who sat on Dundee City Council for 13 years also quit in August over the issue of equal marriage.

Despite promises from Mr Salmond that freedom of speech and conscience would be protected, Scotland for Marriage, and anti-equal marriage group said he had broken promises, that there had only been “some movement” on freedom of speech, and other issues had been ignored, reports the Christian Institute. 

Church of Scotland clergy said in December that they would join more than 150 Church of England vicars to defy any bans placed on them from holding same-sex marriages.

In December, however, Scotland announced that, although no churches would ever be forced to perform same-sex marriages, all religious institutions – including the Church of Scotland – would be free to decide for themselves if they would like to provide marriages for gay couples.

That announcement came after the UK government announced that it would be enforcing a “quadruple lock” to protect religious freedom, including banning the Church of England and Church in Wales from performing equal marriages. 

Yesterday a long standing local chairman for the Conservative party resigned over the UK government’s efforts to legalise marriage equality, saying the Prime Minster had “lost touch” with his party and attacked “family values”.