News In Depth
Gay plan 'upsets normal couples'
The Government is hell-bent on upsetting thousands of "normal" couples with plans to allow churches to hold same-sex marriages, a Tory MP has claimed.
Beckenham MP Bob Stewart said it was the wrong time to bring forward controversial proposals to allow same-sex marriages, which have been launched by Prime Minister David Cameron despite opposition from some of his backbenchers.
His Tory colleague Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson also criticised the plans, telling Culture Secretary Maria Miller it was a "nonsense" to claim they would not impact on religious beliefs.
In a pointed attack against ministers, Hendon Tory MP Matthew Offord said the Government should also be consulting on allowing polygamous marriages as some "minorities" believed in allowing men to have more than one wife.
Asking a question to the Culture Secretary, Mr Stewart said: "Could you explain to me why the Government is so hell-bent on upsetting so many thousands of our citizens in normal marriages, especially at this time?"
In reply, Ms Miller said she did not think there was anything within the proposals that would upset couples already married.
She added: "I respect the point that you are making, particularly those of a religious faith, this is something that falls outside of their faith, and I absolutely respect that.
"That is why it is important that we have clear safeguards and protections so that you, your constituents, and others can know that what we are talking about here is strengthening marriage and not undermining it."
Mr Henderson told her the proposals would undermine the institution of marriage.
He said: "The suggestion that the Government's proposals need not necessarily impact on religious beliefs, is a nonsense.
"The definition of marriage is the joining together of a man and a woman in holy matrimony and allowing same sex marriages will therefore require a redefinition of that term.
"Such a weak definition will undermine one of the basic tenets of many religious institutions and so it definitely will impact on religious beliefs. That's not scaremongering, it's fact."
Mr Offord said: "Many members here have expressed the sentiment that marriage is at the centre of religious life. Has the Government considered introducing other forms of marriage such as polygamy? And if not, when can minorities who believe in such a practice expect their own consultation?"
Ms Miller replied: "I think the law is clear on this. Marriage is between two people and so the situation you talk about would not be possible."
Tory MP David Burrowes, of Enfield Southgate, said 500,000 people who had responded to the Government's consultation opposing gay marriage had been "effectively denied their voice" in the debate.
He added: "Is the consultation not in danger of being seen as a sham and certainly not providing the Government with a mandate to redefine marriage?"
Ms Miller said the consultation had been "exceptionally important" in helping the Government form an opinion about how it should introduce any changes.
But other Tories were in favour of gay marriage.
Former minister Nick Herbert said: "Will you agree with me that whilst civil partnerships were an incredibly important step forward for gay people, civil partnerships were not marriages and gay people will not feel they are fully accepted in society while they are denied access to what is one of our most important institutions?"
Ms Miller said there was an important difference in "perception" between marriage and civil partnership.
Liberal Democrat MP Steve Gilbert, of St Austell and Newquay, said: "Can I say that in the real world this issue is neither complex nor controversial and in fact, if confirmed tomorrow, will be widely welcomed by millions of lesbian and gay, bi-sexual and trans people, across our country."
Ms Miller said there was "great deal of support for making sure that marriage stays a relevant institution today".
She added: "I don't think it is anything about fashion or style or modernity. It is also about fairness and equality."
what do you think?
Cameron is loose canon looser on the run. All of his Thatcherite diversionary tactics have failed and made him look weaker in the process. He has succeeded in two areas, those being; Further alienation of the voting public who want him long gone. The fragmentation of the Tory party which would render it neutered when in opposition. Both of these achievements are negative and he should have the grace to step down, but then grace and humility were never two of his finer points.
Stop telling me how I think and what I want. I have enough of that from people like mrs balls.
Average Joe public out here looks on puzzled. What's the fuss? I am not going to pass judgement on any two loving people who want to get married. What a strange world we live in, there is little time in one lifetime to get it right so a powerfull opportunity presents itself, all you have to do is convince folk that there is another available to them ...but...its called religion for some reason, there are rules...really the same rules for all.. must be one clear God, one Book, and of course there are always Sinners. Focus on the sinners among you, even worse - the Unbelievers! I, of course hold the power of Salvation, or forever Damnation, over you all! I suppose buying a lottery ticket is a similar process of the mind?
"Normal couples", eh? So if you have two heads but are heterosexual, you are normal, I presume? Cripes - some people still talk like we're in the dark ages!
Nah - I'm a happily married man, but there's nothing "normal" about my household!
Oops- thumbs down from the homophobes! For the record, I'm heterosexual too, and quite amazed people feel this way!
Excuse my ignorance but is Ms Miller married or single?
Does it really matter!! From the year dot most men have retained the title 'Mr' (unless they are 'Lord' etc) but it has been expected that women change from Miss to Mrs on marriage. This is mainly due to the fact that men then considered their wives to be their property! Nowadays, we women have a choice. I happily became Mrs on marriage but not all women do!
i have a boyfriend and im proud of it .
good for you
And whyever should you be ashamed? If I were you though, I'd never want to marry in a place which shuns you - tell 'em to get stuffed and book a fab hotel! Ha ha ha.
I have no problem with same sex marriage. It is not my thing but genes have a way of dictating lives. Perhaps setting up separate same sex marriage venues might help (and I know that many hotels arrange such ceremonies) or if your home permits, hold the service in your own home (much more personal).
"Ms Miller said the consultation had been "exceptionally important" in helping the Government form an opinion about how it should introduce any changes." This shows me the true nature of these so-called consultations. The decision was made BEFORE the consultation with the public and the consultation was no more than an aid to putting the best spin on things. Vive Democracy!
I think that Camron is a closet LibDem who won't be satisfied until this country is finally changed beyond all recognition. Civil partnerships exist, so why interfere with religious weddings? We have gone from tolerating homosexuality to having their every whim imposed on us. Time to resign from the Tory party, I think.
Fed up with hearing about goys. All giraffs are goy. Who cares.