Historic vote on gay marriage splits Worthing MPs

Sir Peter and Tim Loughton at a meeting at Worthing College
Sir Peter and Tim Loughton at a meeting at Worthing College

IT was an historic bill which divided Government, and in Worthing MPs also disagreed on whether gay marriage should be approved.

MPs voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill by 400 to 175, but 136 Tories opposed the bill.

The bill will next go before The House of Lords, where it is expected to face opposition.

If it becomes law, the bill will enable same-sex couples, who are currently able to engage in civil partnerships, to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies – the latter only with the consent of religious institutions.

In particular, the bill divided the Conservative party, with 136 voting against and 132 in favour.

Among those in the Conservative party who were split on the issue were Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley and East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton.

Sir Peter voted in favour of the bill while Mr Loughton opposed it.

Sir Peter said: “The fact is, not everyone is heterosexual. Why should we deny to others the chance of committing themselves in public to a stable, exclusive relationship that will last until death?”

Sir Peter acknowledged there was a “generational difference of opinion” on the issue and respected the beliefs of those who were against same-sex marriage.

Mr Loughton said the issue of same-sex marriage was one of “personal conscience”, rather than political party line.

He also questioned the timing of the vote when other pledges in the Conservative manifesto had still not been delivered.

He said: “For centuries, centuries and centuries, before religions and before governments, the understanding of marriage has been between one man and one woman. It’s been the foundation of family life. That’s the religious services many of us go through but it’s also the secular belief as well. This is a huge redefinition of something that has survived many many centuries. Who are we, who is this Government, who is this country to determine, impose, nationalise a new definition of marriage which will have huge implications.”

Nick Herbert, Arundel and South Downs MP, campaigned for same-sex marriage ahead of the vote.

He said: “Above all, I think of two people, faithful and loving, who simply want their commitment to be recognised as it is for straight couples. We can’t just keep telling them that civil partnerships will do. People choose marriage for a reason: they know that it means something special.”