Thursday, 11.50am: Peterborough’s two MPs took a defiant stance against gay marriage, as reforms got the green light from Commons on Tuesday (5 February).
Stewart Jackson and Shailesh Vara voted against the Prime Minister and against marriage for same-sex couples, in the House on Tuesday.
They sided with a minority of MPs in rejecting the bill and the Tory leader’s claim that gay marriage was a move towards an equal and stronger society.
The Commons voted by 400 to 175, a majority of 225, to give the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill a second reading.
Peterborough MP Mr Jackson thanked his constituents for their messages of support in the aftermath of the Parliamentary debate.
He said: “I’m proud tonight I defended free speech, religious freedom and the institution of marriage and kept faith with my conscience and constituents.”
During earlier debates in the House, the Peterborough MP hit back at a comparison made between his opposition to the Bill and racism.
He countered: “Rosa Parks did not refuse to give up her seat on that bus for me to go to the back of the bus as a traditional Christian.
“This government has no right to tell me that my long held traditional theological beliefs can be thrown away in the dustbin on the basis that’s the zeitgeist, let’s all be trendy and have same sex marriage.
“My view is not based on hostility to gay people. I would have in fact supported civil partnerships had I been an MP in 2004.
“However, I believe that the religious definition of the term marriage must be kept between a man and a woman, and as such, the state should not seek to get involved with this legislation which will blur the line between church and state.”
North West Cambridgeshire MP Mr Vara said: “This is a matter of conscience for me, and it has also been highlighted in the views of my constituents who have been in touch.
“I have no problems with civil partnership, but if the definition of marriage is redefined, then I have a number of serious concerns regarding the role of religious institutions such as churches, temples, synagogues and so on.
“Religious groups who oppose gay marriage should be protected against any legal obligation to marry gay couples on their premises.”
Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the final count, calling it “a step forward for our country”.
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