The nationalist Scottish Government has ignored its own public consultation, and announced plans to redefine marriage over the heads of the Scottish people.
Two thirds of the 80,000 consultation responses were opposed to the move, but the Scottish Government says it will redefine marriage regardless.
It plans to allow gay weddings in religious and civil settings, exposing religious celebrants to risk of legal action if they believe in traditional marriage.
The Scottish Government says it doesn’t want to force churches to perform gay weddings against their will, but admits they need Westminster’s help in resolving that issue.
They plan to push a gay marriage Bill through the Scottish Parliament, with those civil liberty concerns still hanging in the balance.
They have promised to not enforce the Bill until the problems over free speech and religious liberty are resolved.
But the Scottish Government’s interpretation of “resolved” may be quite different to that of supporters of traditional marriage – who will be the ones in the firing line.
The approach taken by the Scottish Government means that MSPs will be expected to vote on gay marriage with civil liberty concerns still in doubt.
Scotland’s deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships – we believe that this is the right thing to do.
She went on: “The Scottish government has already made clear that no religious body will be compelled to conduct same sex marriages and we reiterate that today. Such protection is provided for under existing equality laws.
“However, our view is that to give certainty on protection for individual celebrants taking a different view from a religious body that does agree to conduct same sex marriages, an amendment will be required to the UK Equality Act.”
The Scottish government said it was now going ahead with another consultation to consider freedom of speech, including protection for the religious beliefs of teachers and parents in schools.
There will also be a consultation on the Bill itself, to be published later this year.
A Scotland for Marriage spokesman said: “We are deeply unhappy at the decision by the Scottish Government to proceed with its plans to redefine marriage by proceeding with legislation which will penalise and punish those who disagree with redefining marriage.
“They have ignored their own public consultation, and announced that they will proceed with legislation even though – by their own admission – the civil liberty concerns still hang in the balance.
“It has become abundantly clear to the country the proposals from the outset have been ill-conceived and poorly thought out with no consideration for the views of the vast majority in the country, including people of faith.
“Now they are planning yet another consultation. Will they simply consult and consult until they get the answer they want? As they do so, their continued posturing puts the civil rights of religious people at risk.”