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Local MPs vote against equality for gay couples

By Eleanor.Patmore  |  Posted: February 06, 2013

Comments (11)

A HISTORIC move towards full equality for gay people has been opposed by MPs in the Observer patch.

Uttlesford MP Sir Alan Haselhurst, North East Herts MP Oliver Heald, who represents residents in Little Hadham, and Robert Halfon MP, whose constituency includes Sheering, all voted against same-sex marriage in yesterday’s (Tuesday, February 5) key Commons vote.

Bishop’s Stortford’s Mark Prisk was among the 35 MPs who did not vote.

“Whilst personally I have no objection to the same-sex civil ceremonies, I have always been concerned that freedom of religious conscience must also be protected,” he said.

“Despite ministerial assurances in the debate and beforehand, I remain concerned that the chances of legal challenge remain high. This would be divisive, particularly for the Church of England and would put unfair pressure on individual priests and their congregations.”

Both Sir Alan and Mr Heald said they voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which was passed by 400 votes to 175, to reflect the views of their constituents.

The two Tories were among 136 of their fellow party members who voted against.

Sir Alan said he had received messages of support for the bill from 15 constituents but about 10 times that amount against it.

“I just think that this is a step ahead of its time,” he said. “Civil partnerships were introduced and that was a major move in dealing with equality issues, but this is a further step which is causing such a reaction.”

MPs were given a free vote on the bill, meaning they were not ordered to vote a particular way by party whips.

Having received Parliamentary support, the legislation will now receive more detailed scrutiny. If it becomes law, the bill will enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies.

Churches in the Observer patch – including St Therese of Lisieux Roman Catholic Church in Stansted - have reportedly handed out cards encouraging parishioners to contact their MP as they fear they will be forced to marry gay couples.

However, Cllr Howard Rolfe, president of the Saffron Walden Conservative Association, said it was a “natural development for society”.

“I recently saw the film Lincoln and we look back at objectors to abolition (of slavery) with incredulity – in time we will do the same with gay marriage,” he said. “This is a generation thing, most people under 50 do not understand what the fuss is all about.”

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  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  February 12 2013, 2:56PM

    Man & man , woman & woman , who cares? if they love eachother and they want to marry so be it, to be fair don't see what the big fuss about it is. They should have just as much rights as straight couples

  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  February 08 2013, 5:37PM

    @Question: I think Patrick was alluding to the Conservative's right-wing leanings in general, and not generalising.

  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  February 08 2013, 9:23AM

    Patrick, why is bigotory always assumed to be right wing? History is littered with left wing bigots.

  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  February 08 2013, 8:57AM

    Trust our esteemed councillors to take the usual bigoted 'we're not homophobic but gay marriage can't possibly be allowed to happen within religion' stance. It is a concious and blatant action to prolong inequality. However, it is also nothing less than I would expect from this town - Stortford has never exactly been the picture of an equal and mixed society has it?

  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  February 07 2013, 10:52AM

    Marriage belongs to the people not the churches or the bible. It is voluntary and should be available to any couple. Well done to those Tory MP's who voted in favour, in defiance of right wing bigotry.

  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  February 06 2013, 7:47PM

    “I just think that this is a step ahead of its time” A step ahead of it's time? I forgot the Tories are inherently backwards! Seriously, who even voted these stone age idiots in?

  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  February 06 2013, 2:52PM

    Mark Prisk didn't vote because of his concerns about "freedom of religious conscience"? That's a useless excuse. He didn't vote because there was no-one there to take his picture.

  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  February 06 2013, 2:42PM

    Definition of Marriage: the formal union of a man and a woman. Definition of weak: liable to break or give way under pressure; easily damaged. Definition of Useless: not fulfilling or not expected to achieve the intended purpose or desired outcome

  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  February 06 2013, 1:48PM

    Gordon Brown didn't vote either. Were they dining together at The Gay Hussar?

  • Eleanor.Patmore  |  February 06 2013, 1:48PM

    Religion does not accrually own the rights to marriage. It just chooses to say it does. Nothing buy contradiction! The church will happily marry a man an woman who are atheist but not a same sex couple who are christian. WRONG WRONG WRONG! religion is creating the hate crime which is homophobia. And the argument that it disrupts the way of a family life is wrong also! All those mixed sex couples who decide to to have children are liked by the church. But same sex couples who want.to adopt/get surrogate mothers are condemned! What is the world coming to! Just because a woman loves a woman and a man loves a man does not mean they will be bad parents! I know many gay/lesbian people who are absolulty wonderful with children and the children grow up to be law abiding citizens and non judgementle. If I have gay/lesbian children I wouldn't care as long ad they were healthy and happy then whats the problem? Oh yeah NOTHING!