By Terry Vanderheyden

EDINBURGH, January 16, 2006 ( – A decision by Scottish lawmakers to allow same-sex couples to adopt has been condemned by Roman Catholic prelate Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who warned that the measure would make Scotland’s orphans “guinea pigs in some distorted social experiment.”

The Cardinal has asked that Catholic adoption agencies be allowed a “conscience clause” to exempt them from the ruling, so as not to be forced to place children in homes with same-sex guardians. O’Brien is worried that Catholic adoption agencies would eventually be forced into placing children with same-sex couples.

Galloway Bishop John Cunningham, chair of the national committee for pastoral and social care, stated: “If the proposals go ahead as they stand, the bishops would certainly expect an exemption for faith-based adoption agencies,” according to a Times On Line report. “We are disappointed that the executive do not seem to have recognised the unique contribution that a stable married couple can make to the upbringing of children.

“We also have grave reservations concerning the ability of same-sex couples or unmarried heterosexual couples, however loving they might be, to provide the stability and the role models a married couple can,” he added.

The new law allows all unmarried couples – whether heterosexual or homosexual – the option of adoption. Earlier laws allowed one member of a non-married couple to apply to adopt a child, while the second member applied for a residency order. The UK outside of Scotland brought in a similar law allowing same-sex couples to adopt or foster a child in December.