Senior Tory ministers urge backing for same sex marriage bill

As MPs prepare to vote on the government’s gay marriage bill this evening, three of the most senior cabinet ministers have urged MPs to back the measure.

In a joint letter to the Telegraph, Foreign Secretary William Hague, Home Secretary Theresa May,.and Chancellor George Osbourne wrote:

“Civil partnerships for gay couples were a great step forward, but the question now is whether it is any longer acceptable to exclude people from marriage simply because they love someone of the same sex.”

The letter continues:

“Marriage has evolved over time. We believe that opening it up to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, the institution.”

No “faith groups” will not be forced to conduct gay marriage, claims the letter, but:

“…Religious freedom works both ways. Why should faith groups, such as the Quakers, that wish to conduct gay marriages be forbidden from doing so?”

The three ministers conclude:

“Attitudes towards gay people have changed. A substantial majority of the public now favour allowing same-sex couples to marry, and support has increased rapidly. This is the right thing to do at the right time.”

Meanwhile, some of the approximately 80 undecided Tory MPs have complained of receiving “vitriolic abuse” from religious groups opposed to the bill. One MP told the Independent:

“Quite a few of us who were considering abstaining will vote in favour of gay marriage because of the unreasonable nature of the emails we have been receiving. Some of the emails I’ve had are simply appalling and I’m fed up with it.”

Conservative MP Conor Burns, who has not declared his voting intentions, added:

“The whole thing is deeply unpleasant and people are saying things that you wouldn’t say to people you despised or hated. I don’t know what kind of God some of those people who have contacted me from religious groups believe in – but he’s certainly not compassionate or loving.”

But fellow Conservative MP David Burrowes, who is an opponent of the bill, insisted that there had been vitriol from proponents of the bill too. He is quoted by the Independent saying:

“I’ve had death threats, hostility and hate mail. My children have even been told that their dad is a homophobe. There has been abuse and intolerance of both sides.”

Photo by The Prime Minister’s Office via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

 

Marilyn Stowe

The senior partner at Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers with clients throughout the country, in Europe, the Far East and the USA.

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