Cardinal O'Brien

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has called for a referendum on gay marriage. Picture: Scotsman/Greg Macvean

If the country’s economy does not implode first, Scotland is to have a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom in 2014. A Scottish government consultation on the subject drew 20,000 to 30,000 responses.

But a consultation on same-sex marriage (which closed in December) drew 80,000 submissions — suggesting that the Scots have a far bigger interest in the status of marriage than in their relationship with Westminster.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, fearless contender against political correctness, has drawn a reasonable conclusion:

“Clearly, if it is sensible to hold a referendum on independence, it is crucial that 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.”

The government, which has said that it “tends towards the view” that same-sex marriage should be introduced, is expected to announce plans for legislation on the issue this week.

In the United States, wherever the issue has been put to referendum rather than pushed through state legislatures, the majority of voters have confirmed that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Writing in The Scotsman on Sunday Cardinal O’Brien said that politicians have failed to grasp the dangers of the changes to marriage law that they propose.

“The concern for those who demand equality cannot allow us to consign to history our understanding of the basic goods of human society”.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet