The widow of a former deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats has resigned from the party after almost 50 years because of its plans to redefine marriage.
In a letter printed in a Scottish national newspaper last week, Lady Joan Johnston said gay marriage was the ‘straw that has finally broken the camel’s back’. She had been a Lib Dem member since 1964.
She made the decision following a recent email from Nick Clegg, in which he claimed one of the party’s achievements will be the first homosexual marriage before 2015.
Her late husband, Lord Russell-Johnston, was deputy leader of the Lib Dems from 1988-1992 and also President of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Lady Johnston said: “I also take strong exception to the fact that if the Party advocates the redefining of “marriage” in this way, it follows that this will be promoted in schools as being on the same footing as traditional marriage between a man and a woman.”
She argued that one of the purposes of marriage as the union between a man and a woman is the procreation of children.
“Clearly, therefore,” she said “there cannot be a ‘marriage’ between two people of the same sex”.
In her letter of resignation, Lady Johnston said she could not “condone” the way the way the party is “promoting gay ‘marriage'”.
She said: “As far as I am concerned, the straw that has finally broken the camel’s back is the claim [contained in a recent e-mail to me from Mr Clegg], that one of the Liberal Democrats’ achievements by 2015 will have been the first gay marriage.”
She explained that “As a committed Christian, I have no choice but to resign my party membership forthwith.”
Last week a survey showed that most Scots do not want marriage to be redefined.
An Opinion Research Business poll of over 1,000 Scottish adults found that 53 per cent agreed that homosexual couples should not be allowed to redefine marriage for everyone else. It revealed 36 per cent disagreed.
The Scottish Government is still analysing responses to its consultation on same-sex marriage, which closed in December.