A new poll says Scots are less likely to back independence if the Scottish Government redefines marriage.
The survey of 1,004 voters showed 11 per cent are less likely to vote to end the union if same-sex marriage is legalised. Just two per cent were more likely to vote for independence as a result.
The news comes as former Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Gordon Wilson warned Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond that redefining marriage would be ‘disastrous’ for the independence referendum. Mr Wilson led the SNP from 1979 to 1990.
The SNP-led Scottish Government is still analysing responses to its consultation on redefining marriage, which closed in December.
The independence referendum is understood to be scheduled for autumn 2014, with commentators predicting a very close result.
But Mr Wilson believes the Scottish Government’s plans on marriage could “alienate” voters. He said: “It’s a potential disaster.
“If the government presses ahead with this proposal against public opinion it will alienate people from voting for independence in the referendum.”
He added: “The SNP has to do everything in its power over the next two and a half years to persuade the population as a whole that independence is a good thing and this poll indicates that it is skating on very thin ice.”
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland said: “Hopefully the fact that a redefinition of marriage would be inherently unjust as well as an electoral liability will convince the Government to change its position.”
The Scottish Government’s proposals to rewrite the definition of marriage have provoked a strong backlash.
The Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland are all opposed to the move.
In November a new campaign group Scotland for Marriage, a group seeking to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, was launched. It is comprised of both religious and non-religious organisations.
This week newspaper adverts will run criticising the Scottish Government’s proposals to redefine marriage.