Conservative MPs warn of gay marriage backlash

Conservative, Gainsborough Edward Leigh MP has concerns over the way the same-sex marriage issue has been handled

The government has been warned it faces a backlash from Tory grassroots supporters over proposals to allow same-sex marriages in church.

Lincolnshire MP Edward Leigh is one of the leading opponents of plans to allow religious institutions to hold 'gay marriage' ceremonies.

The Conservative MP for Gainsborough has accused the government of performing a U-turn - claiming the initial consultation on same-sex marriage applied only to civil ceremonies.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Leigh said: "The change of policy greatly increases the chance of human rights litigation to force churches to have same-sex marriages against their will.

"The state has no right to redefine people's marriages."

More than 100 Conservative MPs oppose legislation to allow same-sex marriage.

The Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell, Alec Shelbrooke, also expressed his concerns.

Start Quote

What I find upsetting about this entire conversation is that if you vote against this you're homophobic”

End Quote Alec Shelbrooke MP Conservative

Speaking to the Sunday Politics in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, Mr Shelbrooke said: "What I find upsetting about this entire conversation is that if you vote against this you're homophobic. I am not homophobic.

"I certainly believe that people should be able to have equal partnerships. This is a religious discussion for me and one which personally I feel has gone totally in the wrong direction."

The government says churches would be allowed to 'opt-in' to the new rules and no religious groups would be forced to carry out same-sex ceremonies.

The Church of England and Church in Wales would be excluded from any new law.

The Equalities Minister Maria Miller has said the government is committed to a "quadruple lock" package of safeguards to protect religious freedom.

That would include amending the 2010 Equality Act to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple.

David Cameron has said he does not want gay people "excluded from a great institution".

A number of leading Conservatives are in favour of same-sex marriage, including Education Secretary Michael Gove and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Tim Iredale Article written by Tim Iredale Tim Iredale Political editor, Yorkshire & Lincolnshire

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  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    While not wishing to take sides, I did not expect to see homosexuality legalised in my lifetime, but it happened in a few short years. Like many convenient changes this may be argued as a move for civilisation.

    Now, what if we see a similar move towards paedophilia? It could be argued that this is as "natural" as homosexuality. Again without taking sides I present this for debate. Think about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Good to see that some Conservative MPs can still adhere to basic standards. There is no mandate for this Parliament to redefine marriage. I am happy for homosexuals -"gay" is an abuse of our language - to have civil partnerships but "marriage" is a big step too far. No doubt Cameron is promoting the issue to appease the Libs. We all know from the lessons of history that appeasement does not work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I see it (marriage) as a legal contract between two adults, regardless of sex..."

    Why only two adults, why not three, or four?
    Surely if marriage can be redefined by sex, it can be redefined by numbers, too.
    My guess is that such a situation will come about in time.
    People can be persuaded to swallow anything, if it is fed to them in small enough pieces.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Alan (20) categorises opponents to Gay Marriage as having a set of opinions on a number of issues. For myself I am against Gay Marriage, for Women Bishops, against Voting Rights for Prisoners, and for Continuation of Membership of the EU. Does that make me confused? I am also a member of an Anglican church, and have been a long-time member, though maybe not much longer, of the Lib-Dems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Totally agree with 34. mlenno the thought of two people loving each other and committing to a life together is absolutely abhorrent. Let's enact legislation that puts a stop to this dreadful behaviour.


Comments 5 of 43



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