Labour-mediumA spokesperson for Gordon Brown has explained why the former Prime Minister was not present at the House of Commons vote on gay marriage on Tuesday.

Brown was one of 16 MPs who were absent from the debate and vote in the House of Commons on allow gay and lesbian couples in England and Wales the right to marry. A spokesperson for Mr. Brown has explained to Pink News why the former Labour leader was absent.

“Mr Brown had a planned trip to the United States in his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Global Education to promote and further his work towards universal global education. Unfortunately, the trip was arranged before the date of the vote was known and it was not possible to reschedule. He is fully supportive of the legislation.” – Gordon Brown’s spokesperson speaking to Pink News

In 2010, while he was Prime Minister, Mr. Brown stated he did not support introducing same-sex marriage. When questioned on the subject, by Pink News, in the run-up to the general election, he stated that the government had introduced civil partnerships to give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples but that “religious groups have the right to a certain degree of self-organisation on questions that are theologically important to them, including on the question of religiously-sanctioned marriage. So the provision of ‘marriage’ as opposed to the provision of same-sex or heterosexual civil unions, is intimately bound up with questions of religious freedom”

In all 220 Labour MPs voted in favour of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill on Tuesday evening. Amongst the Labour MPs to vote in favour were party leader Ed Miliband, deputy leader Harriet Harman, Diane Abbott, Douglas Alexander, Ed Balls, Dame Margaret Beckett, Hilary Benn, Ben Bradshaw and Dennis Skinner. 20 Labour MPs voted against the bill and amongst those who did so were Stephen Pound, Derek Twigg, Jim Sheridan and Rosie Cooper.

In all 400 MPs voted in favour with 175 voting against giving the bill a majority of 225. More Tory MPs voted against the bill than for; 136 opposed the government but the figure was much less than the 180 some right-wing papers were predicting.

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