Church leaders in Scotland push for conscience clause in equal marriage legislation

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The Free Church of Scotland, who are opposed to equal marriage, are calling on the Scottish Government to include a conscience clause giving greater protections to celebrants who disagree with marrying same-sex couples.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) is currently in the process of pushing same-sex marriage legislation through the Scottish Parliament where it has cross party support.

Under the plans religious bodies would have to opt into performing same-sex marriage ceremonies but the Free Church of Scotland believe that the legislation does not include enough protections for those who hold the view that marriage is between one man and one woman.

A spokesmen for the Church called on the Scottish Government to include a conscientious objectors clause similar to that which applies for the 1967 Abortion Act and added that “the Free Church wants some reassurance that in the eyes of the state it will still be legal to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

The Free Church also wants amendments made to the Equalities Act to protect all those who are opposed to same-sex marriage on the grounds of religious conviction.

Equal marriage legislation is expected to easily pass with over two thirds of Members of the Scottish Parliament supporting the reform including Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond – earlier in the week he declared legalising equal marriage in Scotland “is the right thing to do.”

On Thursday, The Daily Record, one of Scotland’s largest selling tabloid newspapers, announced its support for equal marriage in a video for the Equality Network’s It’s Time campaign.