Ruth Davidson, the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives, supports redefining marriage for the sake of same-sex couples.
Miss Davidson, a lesbian, says she does not want religious organisations to be forced to carry out same-sex wedding ceremonies against their wishes.
However, opponents of redefining marriage say if the definition was changed the new definition would be promoted by the state as the standard, with huge implications for what is taught in schools and for wider society.
Miss Davidson is a Glasgow MSP and beat off competition from three other candidates to lead the Scottish Conservatives.
Speaking to The Sunday Times she said: “On the issue of same-sex marriage I support it but with the important proviso that there is no compulsion for religious organisations that do not wish to carry out ceremonies to be compelled to do so.”
The Government, led by the Scottish National Party (SNP), is currently consulting on changing the definition of marriage.
But Sir Tom Farmer, the millionaire founder of Kwik-Fit and a SNP donor, has said: “Most people would see a marriage as being between two of the opposite sexes, the male and the female.
“One of the main important areas of marriage is the creation of children, and the family life.”
Gordon Wilson, a former SNP leader, has commented: “You attack the building block of society at your peril”, adding, “this decision should be put to a referendum of the Scottish people”.
And the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has warned: “The view of the Church is clear, no government can rewrite human nature; the family and marriage existed before the state and are built on the union between a man and a woman.”
Cardinal Keith O’Brien added: “Any attempt to redefine marriage is a direct attack on a foundational building block of society and will be strenuously opposed.”