For some there was much rejoicing yesterday, for others that wasn’t the case. The Scottish Government have decided that they will put forward legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry including in religious ceremonies.
The Church hasn’t come out of all this particularly well, it has been wrong footed, slow to pick up the debate in a rational way, and has spent much of its time trying to avoid rather than engage with the issues. In the SEC I think the moratorium has stiffiled debate rather than giving breathing space to debate in what would have been seen as relative safety for all concerned. I have a plea, let’s not wait until the Scottish Government produce a paper which will require responses way before the church machinery has even managed to crank up to half pace. Let’s start meeting, listening and discussing now. Let us this time have intelligent, rationalised comments to make. Let us this time have already discussed and agreed on a way forward so that any announcement from official church channels aren’t a surprise from where people thought the church was, but a genuine echo of what people have been talking about.
The Scottish Government have said:
A focused consultation with stakeholders will now take place to inform the drafting of legislation and guidance. It will consider any additional measures that may be required to guarantee freedom of speech and religion in specific circumstances, including education.
As indicated in the consultation, a draft Bill will be published for consultation later in the year.
If a draft bill will be published later in the year then any focussed consultation with stakeholders will be taking place pretty soon. Just who are they going to speak to in the SEC, and have those people had the kind of discussions themselves that will empower them to give accurate current opinions?
I fear knee jerk reactions from the churches if they don’t start finally discussing this issue sooner rather than later. Please let us not miss the boat again.