Gay marriage vote: Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell votes 'yes' and local Conservative MPs defy party
PARLIAMENT has voted to pave the way for gay marriage despite opposition from 139 Conservative MPs, including Cleethorpes' Martin Vickers.
Following a five-hour debate last night, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill passed its second reading by 400 votes to 175, although it exposed deep divisions within the main Coalition party.
Edward Leigh, MP for Caistor and Market Rasen, and Sir Peter Tapsell, for Louth and Horncastle, also defied the Conservative Party to vote against the legislation.
Mr Vickers said same-sex marriage would "potentially alienate thousands" of Conservative supporters.
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"Maybe the tide of history is against them," he added, "but a major social change like this should not be pushed through without an electoral mandate.
"Governments must legislate to balance the different views of those over whom they rule, and by pushing ahead with this they're trampling on views of a great many people. Social changes like this should be allowed to evolve … but now is not the time."
Great Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell, however, supported the legislation, having decided to vote "yes" after listening to the Commons debate. Earlier yesterday, he told the Telegraph he was planning to abstain.
He said: "I heard all the arguments and decided it was almost inevitable. I was very moved by some of the speeches and decided I couldn't win by abstaining, so I voted for it."
The Bill will enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, assuming a church or religious organisation has given its consent.
It will also allow couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage.
During the debate, Mr Leigh told MPs marriage was "by its nature a heterosexual union, bringing together one man and one woman".
He said: "It's not just a romantic attachment, which can exist between any two people, and it's not just a sexual union. It requires the opposite sexes; take that basic requirement away and what you have is not marriage.
"Not everything can be forced through the merciless prism of equality."
MPs had a free vote on the issue, which meant their parties did not instruct them on how to vote. It came after a concerted push by the Conservative Party to persuade its MPs to back the proposals.
Speaking just before MPs voted, the Prime Minister said same-sex marriage was "an important step forward" and would "make our society stronger".
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill still has to pass three more Parliamentary hurdles before it is debated by the House of Lords.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said all couples should be given this right, insisting the bill would protect religious freedoms and would "not marginalise" those who believe marriage is the preserve of a union between a man and a woman.
YouGov polling conducted on behalf of gay rights campaigners Stonewall ahead of the vote showed that seven in ten people support equal marriage, with nine in ten gay people supporting the proposals.
Representatives for both the Catholic church in North East Lincolnshire and the CofE Diocese of Lincoln spoke out against the bill, saying they did not believe marriage was appropriate for same sex couples.
They also argued against Government assertions that the wording of the bill would ensure that the Church of England and the Church in Wales will not face any legal challenges to their objections.
THERE must be many people actually scratching their heads in puzzlement over the fuss that the gay marriages vote has created.
In view of all the other serious issues that are going on both in the UK and internationally, would it be too controversial to ask the question – ‘Why does it appear that so much press time and debate has been held over this’?
We have the treasury warning of one recession after another, cuts right left and centre, fuel bills reaching sky high levels and some of our leading high street retailers going to the wall – putting people out of work.
In the minds of many surely those things are more important than whether a couple, whatever their sex, race or religion, wish to marry or not.
Could this be a distraction from some of the real issues that are going on, a diversion that allows us to cast our minds over to something else? Is there some more bad news that needs to be buried on a day when the headlines are the issue of marriage and same sex couples?
It just makes you wonder, doesn’t it!
*Are you in a same sex relationship, or do you have very firm views as to the whole issue.