A Catholic spokesman slammed the U.K. gay advocacy group Stonewall's bestowal of its “bigot of the year” award on Cardinal Keith O'Brien, calling the move an effort to attack marriage supporters.
Peter Kearney, Director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, said the award “reveals the depths of their intolerance and their willingness to attack and demean those who don’t share their views.”
“Stonewall and others have promoted terms like 'bigot' and 'homophobe' relentlessly, in order to intimidate and vilify anyone who dares oppose their agenda,” Kearney said Nov. 1.
“It is an agenda which the wider public does not endorse and which their excessive language has undermined.”
Cardinal O'Brien, the Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, has been a leading defender of traditional marriage in the face of local efforts to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions.
Stonewall, which receives some government funding, said its 10,000 members voted “decisively” to give the award to the cardinal after he described same-sex “marriage” as a “grotesque subversion” of the universal right to marry.
In a March 3 editorial in the British newspaper The Telegraph, the cardinal warned that redefining marriage would have “huge implications” for schools and for wider society. It would “eliminate entirely” from law the idea that a child needs a mother and a father. He questioned whether teachers who wants to tell students that marriage can only mean the union of a man and a woman will lose that right.
“Will both teacher and pupils simply become the next victims of the tyranny of tolerance, heretics whose dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy must be crushed at all costs?” he asked, citing precedents in Massachusetts to normalize homosexual advocacy.
He warned that the redefinition of marriage might set a precedent for polygamous marriage and cause “further degeneration of society into immorality.”
In response, the director of Stonewall ScotlandColin Macfarlane told The Guardian that the cardinal has “gone well beyond what any normal person would call a decent level of public discourse.”
But Ruth Davidson, an openly lesbian leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, gave a speech at the Stonewall awards ceremony in which she criticized the attack on Cardinal O'Brien.
She said she disagreed with Stonewall’s “need to call people names like ‘bigot’.”
“It is simply wrong,” she said, The Christian Institute reports.
In response, event attendees booed her.
Two leading banks who sponsor the Stonewall event, Barclays and Coutts, have threatened to end their sponsorship unless it drops the prize for “bigot of the year.”
Stonewall U.K. receives funding from many public bodies, including the Scottish government.
Kearney said Stonewall's “intolerant and intimidatory tactics” should call into question the group's funding from many public bodies.
The Scottish parliament could legalize “gay marriages” next year despite strong opposition from religious groups and others.
The push for marriage redefinition is also evident in other parts of the U.K. The United Kingdom’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was also the focus of controversy after his office released a draft speech which called opponents of redefining marriage “bigots.”
Corrected on Nov. 9, 2012 at 10:25 a.m., MST: Cardinal O'Brien was incorrectly described as archbishop of St. Andrews and Glasgow. He is archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh.