UK & World News
Gay Marriage: Cameron Reiterates Support
David Cameron has said allowing gay marriage will "make our society stronger" ahead of a vote on the issue that will expose deep divisions in the Tory party.
In a televised statement recorded less than two hours before the vote, the Prime Minister said: "Today is an important day. I am a strong believer in marriage. It helps people commit to each other and I think it is right that gay people should be able to get married too.
"This is, yes, about equality. But it is also about making our society stronger.
"I know there are strong views on both side of the argument - I accept that. But I think this is an important step forward for our country."
More than 100 Conservative MPs are expected to defy the Prime Minister and oppose the bitterly controversial Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. The vote will be live on Sky News at 7pm.
Former coalition minister Sir Gerald Howarth said the Government had no mandate for such "massive social and cultural change".
"There are many major issues this country has to deal with. This is an irrelevance," he said.
There is also anger at the decision to whip a vote on the timetable for the Bill, with many backbenchers believing it should be scrutinised by the House rather than a committee of MPs.
Earlier, Culture Secretary Maria Miller told MPs at the start of a Commons debate that the Government's plans would protect freedom of faith and extend equality to gay couples.
"Suggestions that this Bill changes something that has remained unchanged for centuries simply does not recognise the road that marriage has travelled as an institution," she said.
She also played down claims that churches refusing to hold gay weddings could face legal action, calling the prospect of a challenge from the European Court of Human Rights "simply inconceivable".
"This Bill is about one thing. It is about fairness, it is about giving those who want to get married the opportunity to do so whilst protecting the rights of those who don't agree with same-sex marriage," she said.
William Hague, George Osborne and Theresa May also joined forces in a last-minute appeal, writing an open letter insisting it "is the right thing do do at the right time".
The three most senior Tories in the Cabinet questioned whether it was "any longer acceptable to exclude people from marriage simply because they love someone of the same sex".
The legislation will get a second reading with Labour and Liberal Democrat support but it is possible that more than half the Tories' 305 MPs could vote against it.
This would be hugely damaging for the Prime Minister, coming amid a febrile atmosphere of plotting against him and claims that hundreds of Tory activists are deserting the party in protest.
New poll results also show that that the issue threatens to drive voters away from the Tories.
A YouGov survey for The Sun put Labour ahead by 15 points with the Tories on 30%.
In a separate ComRes poll for ITV News, more than a third - 34% - said the move made the Conservatives less attractive to them as voters. Only 15% said it made the party more appealing.
All three major parties have allowed a free vote on the Bill. Around 20 Labour MPs, a few Lib Dems and the Democratic Unionist Party's MPs are also expected to vote against.
Lib Dem MP John Pugh said he would break ranks with his party because there was a "good liberal case" against the move.
In an open letter to constituents, he said his fundamental objection was that the legislation "achieves none of its objectives and weakens the link between marriage and the family".
But the Tories are potentially even more divided on gay marriage than they are on Europe, with party activists as well as Conservative MPs publicly clashing over the proposals to allow same sex couples to marry.
At least two members of the Cabinet, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Welsh Secretary David Jones, are expected to oppose the proposals.
Two more, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, may abstain.
In a bizarre twist ahead of the vote, gay political commentator Iain Dale claimed that the Tories threatening to vote against the Bill include several "closet-case gays" including "two supposedly heterosexual MPs who I know to be conducting gay affairs".
what do you think?
What gets me is just how sexually obsessed these older MPs are.
Once again the tree huggers and do gooders dictate that the minority rule in this country we change long standing customs and practices to accommodate minority groups. If two people wish to commit to each other then that's fine irrespective of their sexual orientation. We as a county are loosing all of are culture and traditions. We can even teach parts are history because some in this country find it offensive yet if we voice are opinion and say I find something about others offensive we are categorised as homophobic or racist or bigot. We should all get on and live together but at what cost
I think that each 2 their own as far as partnerships are concerned and am not particularly religous but i still think that marriage should stay as its meant 2 be btween a man and a woman if people want 2 commit then do it but it doesnt need a church blessing ur either commited 2 a relationship or not and a piece of paper doesnt make a differance either way x
One minor problem Paul. According to polls, 65 % of the UK support same sex marriage.
Yes Adam but you can get any answer you require out of. Statistics. It's all about how you put the questions to people
I think that I would take your comments a lot more seriously Sandra if you used the word 'to' rather than the number 2 in a failed attempt to appear 'cool'.
It's called tolerance and understanding !!! Not tree hugging as you put it !
Here we go again. Tory hypocracy knows no bounds. Rotten to their black, hypocritical, capitalistic hearts. Denounce g ay people in public whilst practising same sex relationships in private. Typical.
Some traditional institutions should not change just to be p.c to the minority.the church being one, they should never allow same sex marriage to take place in a church.but there are other institutions that have been spoilt.girls should never have been allowed into the cubs and scouts.this ought to be reversed back to boys onlyfor one example .and there are many other things being spoilt just to keep a minority happy.
That is my point exactly
' . . . and there are many other things being spoilt just to keep a minority happy . . . ' Please, give us some examples.
The rest of that cums down 2 equality not the same issue as this same sex marriages r not ever gna b the norm just a bandwagon jumped on by people scared 2 stand up and b counted not wantin 2 b seen ad biggots by those who r 4 the marriage thing this country is made up of people who think they shud always get wat they want regardless of the rights and wrongs of the sittuation x
The word is 'to' Sandra, not '2', for God's sake. Get a grip.
And the rest of what you have written seems utter nonsense. Did you fail your English GCSE? Your attempt at being 'cool' has completely destroyed any credibility that your comment may have had.
The majority of people support same sex marriage - as the vote today will prove. Bigots, homophobes are, as ever, losers. This is the dumbest statement written yet: 'We as a county are loosing all of are (sic) culture and traditions'. Gin Palaces used to be part of our 'culture and tradition', as were poor houses, rickets, child labour, slums dwellings, pillories, public hangings, women not being able to vote, g@y people imprisoned or sadistically killed.
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Well put Peter. These are 'traditions' that are papered over because they are too embarassing to be brought out into the open. I wonder what would happen if the Christian Church decided to follow the teachings of its founder, rather than the 'traditions' of its establishment.
The whole antipathy of Christian/Hebrew/Islamic theologans against h omosexuality has more to do with power, politics and money rather than the act itself. In glorious Pagan antiquity prostitution was common in our Pagan Temples (though at the time the context was not seen as a brothel, rather just another service open for the congregation to use if required). All the patriachal religions were in competition with the Pagans and as such h omosexuality became linked with Paganism. All the anti-g ay rhetoric of the bible is more based against another faith rather than two people making love
Anyway, who cares? Live free. Sleep with any of the five genders that takes your fancy. Live free.
five genders? i'm only aware of two.
The five genders are - Male. Female. Pre-op Transexual. Post-op Transexual. Hermaphrodite. You really never knew?
Hmmm. Not sure about that Stevie! If i can ask... as a pagan (i don't pretend to know paganism, so correct me if i'm wrong), i guess if you boil it down it is the worship of nature yes? Well without scientific assistance then there is 2 genders in nature... how does that square with paganism? Not having a go mate, just curious!
More than 2 genders in 'nature' Lorgar - check out 'gender dysphoria'. Imbalance of hormone secretion into foetus suggests that there is no clear division between genders because both body and brain need to be affected.
what morals does cameron have this is not natural he is not god and cannot change the natural order of life he should listen to the people of uk not his friends ..this will cost dearly espically in votes
cameron is an absolute joke. but unfortunately not a very funny one.
How on earth will allowing g a y marriage make our country and society stronger?? Goodness me , who voted this man in??
I don`t know but I have a horrible idea that we may find out.
Love is love. Why shouldn't they have the right to marry? That is the ultimate commitment, is it not? And to say it's not 'natural' is small minded. Maybe to homophobic hetrosexual people, but to our g@y and lesbian friends this is completely natural. Why don't we bring back the 'treatment' to cure the g@ys while we are at it! P.S I love the fact that Orange wouldnt let me post this comment until I removed the word g a y!
Next step compel the clergy to perform same sex marriages.
I couldn't care less! Let them do what they want. I just think there are more important things than this right now.