Twitter and Facebook have been ablaze with condemnation of the latest religious criticism of same-sex marriage. According to Cardinal Keith O'Brien in the Sunday Telegraph, to allow same-sex unions would be a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right."
For those who don't know, Cardinal O'Brien is the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland. He argues that same-sex marriage would be damaging to children and compares allowing same-sex partners to marry to allowing slavery.
It would be easy to dismiss such ridiculous arguments by alluding to the Catholic Church's oversight of decades of child abuse, to point to the many tenets of the Bible which have over the centuries been redefined (including the right to keep a slave!) or the large number of divorces and broken homes resulting of opposite-sex marriage.
You could surmise that Cardinal O'Brien thinks it is perhaps preferable to see children left abandoned in care homes rather than going to a loving same-sex home. In his mind this I guess is better for the child than having two mums or two dads.
But society is changing. And marriage, in general, belongs to society. There will always be those who are unhappy with change; who oppose same-sex unions. Just as there are those who still find that slavery is acceptable, or that women should be stoned for adultery, or even that ethnic apartheid is justified. We call these people extremists. Yet, despite these people, we argue that society has evolved for the better. We announce that we are a tolerant nation, welcoming those from all backgrounds to create a prosperous community.
I am a gay, Christian conservative. Quite a combination some might say. My faith, as well as my personal interest, compels me to support same-sex marriage. The Christian faith, at its core, preaches love, tolerance and freedom. Organised religion however is as much about power as it is about faith. The Church will feel that redefining marriage will remove some of its power. However, Society is evolving and if the church wants to remain relevant then it must evolve also.
As a Conservative I value the power of a loving home in guiding and educating children; whether that home is defined as having a single parent, same or opposite-sex parents. We should be doing all we can to help young people to develop, progress and better themselves. Does it really matter that this encouragement is from same-sex parents?
Opening the traditional view of marriage to include same-sex unions is not a done deal however. We see time and again the voice of those who believe in a tolerant society being drowned out by extremists and bigots. As the government prepare to launch an official consultation on the issue, it is time for those who are pro-marriage and in favour of a progressive society to start being vocal. Start commenting on news articles, start tweeting and facebooking, but more importantly respond to the government's consultations.
Apathy and complacency are not our friends!