Cardinal Keith O’Brien

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, has slammed British Prime Minister David Cameron for supporting full marriage equality.

O’Brien wrote a diatribe, published in The Telegraph on Saturday, outlining his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples, it is clear that this proposal is not about rights, but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists,” wrote the Cardinal.

“As an institution, marriage long predates the existence of any state or government. It was not created by governments and should not be changed by them. Instead, recognising the innumerable benefits which marriage brings to society, they should act to protect and uphold marriage, not attack or dismantle it.”

He went on to claim: “Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.

“Other dangers exist. If marriage can be redefined so that it no longer means a man and a woman but two men or two women, why stop there? Why not allow three men or a woman and two men to constitute a marriage, if they pledge their fidelity to one another? If marriage is simply about adults who love each other, on what basis can three adults who love each other be prevented from marrying?”

British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell responded in a statement that Cardinal O’Brien “is out of touch and intolerant”.

Tatchell commented: “If he supports marriage, the Cardinal should welcome the fact that many lesbian and gay couples want to get married. Same-sex marriage does not detract in any way from heterosexual marriage. It does not diminish or devalue marriages between opposite-sex couples.

“Allowing same-sex marriage does not undermine marriage; it strengthens it.”

Tatchell also noted that “the churches have redefined marriage in the past. They no longer oppose divorce and the remarriage of divorced couples. There is no reason why marriage should not be redefined to include lesbian and gay couples.”

The British government is launching a consultative process this month to assess the public’s views on legalising same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

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