Scottish Reverend Calls on Local Registrars to Refuse Civil Partnerships

A Scottish reverend has called on local registrars in the Galloway area of Scotland to follow in the footsteps of the Western Isles and refuse to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.

The call from Rev. Darryl Abernethy of Stranraer Free Presbyterian Church follows the first two civil partnership ceremonies in the Galloway area of two same sex couples on Wednesday, reports Galloway Today.

Bill Lowe and John Emslie of Doonhill House in Newton Stewart took part in a civil partnership ceremony at the town’s MacMillan Hall Wednesday morning, while Kelly Alexander and Angela Allan engaged in a ceremony in Stranraer registry office in the afternoon.

|QUOTE|Mr Lowe said of the ceremony: “It’s been a long time coming. We’ve waited 15 years for this moment; many people have waited a lot longer for a change in the law.”

Rev. Abernethy, however, responded to the events by praising the decision by the Western Isles to refuse to conduct civil partnership ceremonies and called on local registrars to follow suit.

“God as the creator, judge and king of all men instituted marriage between men and women at the beginning of time for the betterment and multiplication of mankind.”

He added: “We call upon all right thinking registrars to adopt the same position as those in the Western Isles and refuse to participate in these nefarious ceremonies."

Councillors in the Western Isles of Scotland voted to officially outlaw civil partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples which begin in Scotland on 21st December 2005.

The Western Isles, where Presbyterianism remains the bedrock of values, will become the only part of the country where gay couples will not be able to take part in civil partnership ceremonies.

All registry offices will be legally obliged to perform basic registrations, at which gay couples will sign an official civil partnership document before two witnesses, under the Civil Partnerships Act, passed last year at Westminster. Councils across the country are also offering to conduct ceremonies similar to heterosexual civil weddings.

Councillors at a meeting of the Western Isles Council’s Policy and Finance Committee last month voted to outlaw such ceremonies following complaints from the council’s registrars who said they would be unwilling to carry them out.

|TOP|The decision means that homosexual couples wishing to take part in a civil partnership ceremony will either have to travel to the mainland or make do with legal registration.

Highlands and East Renfrewshire councils also raised doubts over whether to conduct gay civil ceremonies but agreed to offer them to same-sex couples following pressure from the Scottish Executive and gay rights campaigners.

“It is a practical decision: our officers don’t want to do them so we didn’t even go into the debate [over morality],” said Angus Campbell, chairman of the policy committee.

The Isles, where the Free Church of Scotland on the northerly isle of Uist and the Catholic Church on the southerly isles of South Uist and Barra continue to hold enormous sway, are likely to come under scrutiny from liberals and gay rights campaigners following the decision.

Rev. Tim McGlynn, of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) in Scalpay, said: “To try and force them [the registrars] to do something they think is immoral would be unjust.

He explained: “The position on the isles is that the people in positions in power are far more likely to personally have a faith which is guiding the things that they do.”