A public consultation on whether to redefine marriage in Scotland will be launched before the end of 2011, the Scottish Government has said.
A spokeswoman told The Scotsman newspaper: “The Scottish Government is committed to holding a consultation on the issues of same-sex marriage and civil partnership, with the process beginning later this year.”
Campaigners for same-sex marriage are pushing for the traditional definition to be overturned and a new definition imposed.
During the run up to the Scottish election earlier this year, the SNP made a promise to hold a consultation on the subject, and Scottish Labour promised to look at “options”.
The Scottish Lib Dems went a step further, saying they would back a change to the law. The Scottish Conservatives were silent on the issue ahead of the election.
The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has criticised calls for marriage to be fundamentally redefined.
John Deighan, the Parliamentary Officer for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland asked: “Are we saying that, for the past few thousand years, Western civilisation has been wrong and because of the lobbying by pressure groups over the past ten years everything should now change?”
Mr Deighan also asked: “What are we going to teach our children at school, that you can marry a man or a woman when you grow up?”
The Guardian’s Michael White has previously expressed concern about same-sex marriage, saying that heterosexual marriage is distinct because it “is there to produce and raise children in a more or less stable environment”.
In Canada a legal case involving a polygamist has seen him argue that since the law there permits gay ‘marriage’, his multiple marriages should also be allowed.