Executive Wedded to Double Standard; Minister Backs Marriage but Will Make Divorce Easier

Daily Mail (London), September 11, 2003 | Go to article overview

Executive Wedded to Double Standard; Minister Backs Marriage but Will Make Divorce Easier


Byline: EDDIE BARNES

MARRIAGE is the pillar of society, the government said yesterday - then confirmed plans to make divorce easier than ever.

Unveiling the Scottish Executive's plans to reform family law, Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said she wanted to give children the best possible start in life.

'Central to that is a belief in strong and stable families. And the pillar around which such families are built is marriage,' she said.

But she then announced that she intends to press ahead with marriage reform.

That is expected to involve the introduction of so-called 'quickie divorces', under which couples may be allowed to end their marriage after only a year of separation.

The Family Law Bill will also give stronger rights over their children to unmarried fathers, affording them a legal status they do not currently enjoy.

Critics last night claimed the Executive was being hypocritical and said that if it truly believed marriage was a pillar of society, it should pursue policies which backed it up.

Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: ' There is a degree of hypocrisy here.

'We would agree that the family is the most stable building block of society but it begs the question: exactly what is the Scottish Executive doing to promote marriage and the family?' He added: 'It is difficult to see, apart from this soundbite, what concrete support there is for the family. We would like to see it backed up with some genuine policies.' Divorce, parental rights and adoption are all to be examined by ministers, who believe the law needs to be updated to cope with the growing number of children and adults living outside marriage.

Mrs Jamieson also announced that the Executive is to adopt Westminster plans to legalise gay 'marriage', under which homosexuals will get many of the same rights as married couples.

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Executive Wedded to Double Standard; Minister Backs Marriage but Will Make Divorce Easier
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