Prime Minister feels backlash from Tory rebellion on same-sex ‘marriage’
Over half of Conservative MPs who voted, voted against the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, causing embarrassment for the Prime Minister, who had to rely on the votes of Labour and the Liberal Democrats to see it pass.
During a lengthy debate, MPs voted 400 to 175 in favour of the Bill. But a total 136 Conservatives opposed the bill, including two cabinet ministers, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Welsh Secretary David Jones and eight junior ministers.
The debate highlighted concern on both sides of the House about the content of the Bill and the manner in which the legislation has been pushed through.
Several MPs remarked that there was no mandate for the Bill because it did not appear in any of the major parties’ manifestos nor the Coalition agreement.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said:
“It is a great disappointment that a Conservative-led Government – historically a party that appreciates the value of tradition – is responsible for such a needless and reckless change. Mr Cameron cannot ignore the fact that at least half of his party are not with him on this issue. If he truly wants to represent his party, and the voters who put it into power, he should have the courage to withdraw his support for this Bill. He is fronting a monumental change and so I find it astonishing that he did not have the courage to be there for the debate.
“This is a sad day for Britain, when our elected representatives are prepared to overturn centuries of legislation on marriage. The essence off marriage has always been the union of one man and one woman. The vote today not only has the potential to overturn historic legislation but also centuries of a common understanding of marriage. No longer will a common understanding exist. There are many people – Christians and non-Christians – who will never accept that marriage can ever be anything other than between a man and a woman.
“Much of the debate in the House of Commons today made mention of equality. But as said in the Commons today, equality is not sameness.
“Legal experts such as Aidan O’Neill QC have already warned about the effect of this legislation on freedom of conscience and religion. The Church of England has warned that this legislation will have a ‘chilling effect’. That chill has already been felt by many.
“We have seen Catholic adoption agencies close because of their views on marriage. We have seen employees demoted for commenting privately about their Christian views of marriage. We have seen civil registrars penalised for their views on marriage. All this has happened before any change to marriage laws. With the passing of this Bill, the trajectory is frightening. Freedoms we have valued for so long are set to diminish.
“The Church has not stood strong on marriage out of a desire to protect its own. Christians believe the Biblical teaching that marriage is for the good of all: for the good of the man and woman, for the good of any children born and for the flourishing of society.
“Our future as a nation rests on marriage, the fundamental building block of society. Today, that future has been put in jeopardy by an ill-conceived and hastily put together piece of legislation”.