Senior Conservatives are calling for their party to give its support to gay marriage today in the House of Commons vote on the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill. However, their call for support comes as Welsh Tory MPs announce they will oppose the bill.
Today the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill will be voted on in the House of Commons. It will be a landmark occasion for gay rights as if the bill is passed – and it is widely expected to do so – it will give lesbian and gay couples the right to marry in England and Wales. It will bring the two countries into line with European countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Spain and Holland with have already legalised same-sex marriages.
However, the bill does face strong opposition especially from within the Conservative party and today three senior Tory MPs have written a letter to the Daily Telegraph urging their party to support gay marriage arguing the majority of the public are supportive of same-sex marriage.
Chancellor George Osborne, Home Secretary Theresa May and Foreign Secretary William Hague have written the letter. It follows a similar letter by the Culture Secretary Maria Miller in The Times newspaper on Monday. The letter in the Daily Telegraph states “Marriage has evolved over time. We believe that opening it up to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, the institution. As David Cameron has said, we should support gay marriage not in spite of being Conservatives, but because we are Conservatives.”
The letter adds “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. We will be among the Conservative MPs voting for this bill today.”
Opinion polls have repeatedly put public support for gay marriage as being in the majority but despite that the issue has continued to divide the Conservative party. All 8 of the party’s Welsh MPs are set to vote against gay marriage today. But the Conservative Party isn’t alone in its opposition there are some within the Labour MP who will also be voting against.
Overall though the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill has the support of the Liberal Democrats, most Labour MPs and those from smaller parties such as Plaid Cymru. Caroline Lucas, the only Green MP in the Houses of Parliament, will also vote in favour of the bill having previously recorded a video message for the Out4Marriage campaign.
David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are all supporters of gay marriage and it is probably one of the only areas – if not the only – in which all three leaders share a common stance.
[Written by Doug Lambert and Martha Kirkpatrick]