News In Depth
PM sees party split on gay marriage
David Cameron got his way as gay marriage legislation cleared its first hurdle in the Commons - but saw his party split down the middle.
After the Prime Minister made a last ditch appeal for support, the House backed the proposals by a big margin of 400 to 175.
However, with Labour and Liberal Democrats strongly in favour, it was clear that scores of Tories had taken advantage of the free vote to register their opposition.
The Labour Whips office suggested that 139 Tories had voted against the Bill, with 132 in favour. Dozens more did not vote.
The result followed more than six hours of stormy debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said it would make Britain "a fairer place to live", and insisted religious organisations which did not want to conduct gay marriages had protection.
But Tory MPs lined up to condemn the measures - including the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Graham Brady, who said he had "serious misgivings" over assurances on religious freedom.
Former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth said that the Government had no mandate for such a "massive social and cultural change", which was not mentioned in the Conservative manifesto for the 2010 election.
Speaking in Downing Street less than two hours before the crunch vote, Mr Cameron accepted that there were "strong views on both sides of the argument".
But he said: "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."
Mr Cameron did not attend the debate, but Downing Street had indicated that he would be voting.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain.
"The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love.
"Equal marriage builds on Labour's successes in Government which include the repeal of Section 28, equalising the age of consent, the introduction of civil partnerships and changes to the rules governing adoption."
what do you think?
I am not a 'g a y' person and I feel absolutley no religous based offence at this, but then I wouldn't as I am not a worshipper! Religion can (should?) have influence but not control at a political level. It wouldn't affect the way I vote one jot, why should it? Any government in power, particularly at present, is dammed if they do 'the right thing', and dammed if they don't it seems!
I am not in favour of homosexuality and feel it should be outlawed as in many other countries.
This comment has been removed for violations of our Terms and Conditions.
Cameron, you do not respect the opinions of others, you will go the way of blaire and brown
How long before some poor Church Minister gets sued on the grounds of 'equality' under the Yuman Rights Act?
Well said Brian Quinn.
"Culture Secretary Maria Miller said it would make Britain "a fairer place to live", and insisted religious organisations which did not want to conduct g.ay marriages had protection." Well, good lady, you should have checked with the legal eagles first! They reckon that all your so called guarantees will fall when tested in the courts by the obsessives who promoted this campaign. Secondly "fairer" place to live? Try telling that to a certain Christian couple running a guest house! The law was unequally applied to them and not to other alternative accommodation. Where is your mandate from the electorate? Why the indecent haste to pass this flawed and tatty legislation? For what reasons was it so very urgent when we have bigger problems? I hope the full story behind this comes out soon!
If I were able to live forever I would never forgive them
Someone tell Milliband that pride is a sin! What an idiot - changing the rules governing adoption was a retrograde step - how on earth can he be proud of that? Mind you when it comes from the mouth of someone who only gets married after he's had kids to give himself some form of respectability shows that he's only trying to court votes.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain. I am a single male Living with a long term partner - Can we be treated the same as married couple please Mr Milipede
How soon before the first church minister is STONEWALLED for refusing to hold a ceramony for a ga y couple in church. Just as a Christian couple were for refusing a double room for a g ay couple in their B&B, even though they also refused unmarried hetrosexual couples as well because it was against their Christian beliefs! How does driving a wedge through peoples beliefs make a Country stronger! This decision has devided the country and made it weaker - but they will get their extra votes at the next election and thats what they did it for!
I wonder how the Muslim community view the situation?????????