Minutes before Tuesday 5th February’s historic vote on the Gay Marriage Bill in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron made a statement saying, “I’m a big believer in marriage. It helps people to commit to each other, and I think that’s why gay people should be able to get married too”. And, aside from the formalities, they now can thanks to a massive 400 to 175 majority in favour of gay marriage. However, as we all know it is not 100% in the bank yet as this was just the first of several necessary votes required for its passage to legalisation. Yes, it has “passed” the House of Commons but it still needs to pass through the House of Lords – i say “passed” in inverted commas because to be technical they have only approved a second reading of the bill not passed a law, however with a 2:1 vote the rest, even if a struggle, is basically a done deal. The Commons has expressed its will. Although, this will no doubt cause huge rifts within the Conservative party with more than half of Cameron’s 303 lawmakers either voting against or abstaining.
However, I agree with the Prime Minister when, after the bills second reading was approved, he announced that this was “a step forward for our country”.
This blog will be more factual than opinionated I fear as I think it is obvious that any forward-thinking, right-minded person would want Gay Marriage to be a part of a civilised, Western and free society. Although as I write that I am reminded of what Mahatma Gandhi said when asked what he thought of Western Civilisation and he stated “I think it would be a very good idea”.
The Gay Marriage Bill gained huge, though not complete, support from the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties which makes sense. Both parties have struggled over recent years and with such a divisive issue as this for the Conservatives, it is a good time to take advantage of public feeling and raise your standing in the polls. This may be working in favour of Labour but the Lib Dems have got quite a lot of political baggage that they need to offload before they see any improvements.
It is also important when discussing this to see which other countries have legalised Gay Marriage, in order that we see how far ahead or behind of other places the United Kingdom is. That list is:
- Denmark (although not in the consultation paper, it was introduced in Summer 2012)
- United States of America (before you all yell I’ll explain the inclusion of USA. It is allowed in 9 of the 50 states and in the District of Columbia. However, the marriage participants do not qualify for any federal tax benefits. A long way to go yet before they are equal but their process started long before the UK’s did.)
- South Africa
It is also important to note that whilst talking of the UK in these terms – the bill that was approved at the second reading yesterday would only apply to England and Wales.
David Cameron’s support goes right back to his first speech as Conservative leader at a party conference:
“When you stand up there, in front of your friends and your family, in front of the world, whether it’s in a church or anywhere else, what you’re doing really means something. Pledging yourself to another means doing something brave and important. You are making a commitment. You are publicly saying: it’s not just about “me, me, me” anymore. It is about we: together, the two of us, through thick and thin. That really matters. And by the way, it means something whether you’re a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and another man.”
Sadly, the biggest dissent was within the Conservative party with 136 MPs opposing the bill (134 voted against and two tellers), and 35 Conservative MPs did not vote.
Labour MPs: 217 voted in favour, only 22 voted against and 16 did not vote.
Lib Dems: 44 voted in favour, only 4 voted against and 7 did not vote.
I will leave you with the names and constituencies of those who either opposed or did not vote from the three major parties. It was quite disheartening to see my local MP, Bob Neill on the list of Tory opposition, but then one cannot expect him to change views he has held close to his bigoted heart for so many years for the sake of the people he is serving. The list below is courtesy of The Guardian.
The Tories who opposed the Bill were: Nigel Adams (Selby & Ainsty), Adam Afriyie (Windsor), Peter Aldous (Waveney), David Amess (Southend West), James Arbuthnot (Hampshire North East), Richard Bacon (Norfolk South), Steven Baker (Wycombe), Tony Baldry (Banbury), Guto Bebb (Aberconwy), Henry Bellingham (Norfolk North West), Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley), Andrew Bingham (High Peak), Bob Blackman (Harrow East), Graham Brady (Altrincham & Sale West), Julian Brazier (Canterbury), Andrew Bridgen (Leicestershire North West), Steve Brine (Winchester), Fiona Bruce (Congleton), Robert Buckland (Swindon South), Simon Burns (Chelmsford), David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate), Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan), Douglas Carswell (Clacton), Bill Cash (Stone), Rehman Chishti (Gillingham & Rainham), Christopher Chope (Christchurch), Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswolds, The), Geoffrey Cox (Devon West & Torridge), Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire), David Davies (Monmouth), Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire), Philip Davies (Shipley), David Davis (Haltemprice & Howden), Nick de Bois (Enfield North), Caroline Dinenage (Gosport), Richard Drax (Dorset South), Charlie Elphicke (Dover), Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North), David Evennett (Bexleyheath & Crayford), Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks), Dr Liam Fox (Somerset North), Mark Francois (Rayleigh & Wickford), George Freeman (Norfolk Mid), Roger Gale (Thanet North), Sir Edward Garnier (Harborough), Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest), Cheryl Gillan (Chesham & Amersham), John Glen (Salisbury), Robert Goodwill (Scarborough & Whitby), James Gray (Wiltshire North), Andrew Griffiths (Burton), Robert Halfon (Harlow), Simon Hart (Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South), Sir Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden), John Hayes (South Holland & The Deepings), Oliver Heald (Hertfordshire North East), Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne & Sheppey), Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Adam Holloway (Gravesham), Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot), Stewart Jackson (Peterborough), Gareth Johnson (Dartford), David Jones (Clwyd West), Marcus Jones (Nuneaton), Greg Knight (Yorkshire East), Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne), Mark Lancaster (Milton Keynes North), Pauline Latham (Derbyshire Mid), Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford), Edward Leigh (Gainsborough), Julian Lewis (New Forest East), David Lidington (Aylesbury), Peter Lilley (Hitchin & Harpenden), Jack Lopresti (Filton & Bradley Stoke), Jonathan Lord (Woking), Tim Loughton (Worthing East & Shoreham), Karen Lumley (Redditch), Karl McCartney (Lincoln), Anne McIntosh (Thirsk & Malton), Stephen McPartland (Stevenage), Esther McVey (Wirral West), Anne Main (St Albans), Paul Maynard (Blackpool North & Cleveleys), Stephen Metcalfe (Basildon South & Thurrock East), Nicky Morgan (Loughborough), Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot), David Morris (Morecambe & Lunesdale), James Morris (Halesowen & Rowley Regis), Bob Neill (Bromley & Chislehurst), Caroline Nokes (Romsey & Southampton North), David Nuttall (Bury North), Stephen O’Brien (Eddisbury), Matthew Offord (Hendon), Jim Paice (Cambridgeshire South East), Neil Parish (Tiverton & Honiton), Priti Patel (Witham), Owen Paterson (Shropshire North), Mark Pawsey (Rugby), Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead), Mark Pritchard (Wrekin, The), John Randall (Uxbridge & Ruislip South), John Redwood (Wokingham), Jacob Rees-Mogg (Somerset North East), Simon Reevell (Dewsbury), Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington), Andrew Robathan (Leicestershire South), Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury), Andrew Rosindell (Romford), David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds), David Rutley (Macclesfield), Andrew Selous (Bedfordshire South West), Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet & Rothwell), Sir Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills), Henry Smith (Crawley), Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge & Malling), John Stevenson (Carlisle), Bob Stewart (Beckenham), Mel Stride (Devon Central), Julian Sturdy (York Outer), Robert Syms (Poole), Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth & Horncastle), David Tredinnick (Bosworth), Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight), Shailesh Vara (Cambridgeshire North West), Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes), Ben Wallace (Wyre & Preston North), Robert Walter (Dorset North), James Wharton (Stockton South), Heather Wheeler (Derbyshire South), Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley), John Whittingdale (Maldon), Bill Wiggin (Herefordshire North), Gavin Williamson (Staffordshire South), Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth & Southam) 22 Labour: Joe Benton (Bootle), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Tom Clarke (Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill), Rosie Cooper (Lancashire West), David Crausby (Bolton North East), Tony Cunningham (Workington), Jim Dobbin (Heywood & Middleton), Brian Donohoe (Ayrshire Central), Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South), Mary Glindon (Tyneside North), Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe & Sale East), Dai Havard (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney), Michael McCann (East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow), Jim McGovern (Dundee West), Iain McKenzie (Inverclyde), George Mudie (Leeds East), Paul Murphy (Torfaen), Stephen Pound (Ealing North), Frank Roy (Motherwell & Wishaw), Jim Sheridan (Paisley & Renfrewshire North), Derek Twigg (Halton), Mike Wood (Batley & Spen).
The tellers for the no votes were: Peter Bone (Wellingborough) and Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal).
Another five Conservative MPs voted both for the bill and against it, the traditional way of registering an abstention. They were: Angie Bray, Andrea Leadsom, Phillip Lee, Charlotte Leslie, and Rob Wilson.
Some 35 Conservatives did not vote: Harriett Baldwin (Worcestershire West), Stephen Barclay (Cambridgeshire North East), Jake Berry (Rossendale & Darwen), Brian Binley (Northampton South), Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West & Abingdon), Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon), Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock), Philip Dunne (Ludlow), Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East), George Eustice (Camborne & Redruth), Graham Evans (Weaver Vale), Richard Fuller (Bedford), Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield), Philip Hammond (Runnymede & Weybridge), Rebecca Harris (Castle Point), Mark Hoban (Fareham), Nick Hurd (Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner), Chris Kelly (Dudley South), Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest), Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater & Somerset West), Patrick Mercer (Newark), Anne Milton (Guildford), Sheryll Murray (Cornwall South East), Jesse Norman (Hereford & Herefordshire South), Claire Perry (Devizes), Stephen Phillips (Sleaford & North Hykeham), Mark Prisk (Hertford & Stortford), Lee Scott (Ilford North), Mark Spencer (Sherwood), Gary Streeter (Devon South West), Graham Stuart (Beverley & Holderness), Edward Timpson (Crewe & Nantwich), Andrew Tyrie (Chichester), Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West), Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-on-Avon).
The 22 Labour MPs who opposed the Bill were: Joe Benton (Bootle), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Tom Clarke (Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill), Rosie Cooper (Lancashire West), David Crausby (Bolton North East), Tony Cunningham (Workington), Jim Dobbin (Heywood & Middleton), Brian Donohoe (Ayrshire Central), Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South), Mary Glindon (Tyneside North), Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe & Sale East), Dai Havard (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney), Michael McCann (East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow), Jim McGovern (Dundee West), Iain McKenzie (Inverclyde), George Mudie (Leeds East), Paul Murphy (Torfaen), Stephen Pound (Ealing North), Frank Roy (Motherwell & Wishaw), Jim Sheridan (Paisley & Renfrewshire North), Derek Twigg (Halton), Mike Wood (Batley & Spen).
The 16 Labour MPs who did not vote were: Dame Anne Begg (Aberdeen South), Gordon Brown (Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath), Alex Cunningham (Stockton North), Bill Esterson (Sefton Central), Pat Glass (Durham North West), Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green), David Heyes (Ashton Under Lyne), Jim Hood (Lanark & Hamilton East), Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham Perry Barr), Michael Meacher (Oldham West & Royton), Ian Mearns (Gateshead), Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East), Virendra Sharma (Ealing Southall), Gavin Shuker (Luton South), Stephen Timms (East Ham), Shaun Woodward (St Helens South & Whiston).
The four Lib Dems who opposed it were: Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley), John Pugh (Southport), Sarah Teather (Brent Central).
Lib Dems who did not vote were: Norman Baker (Lewes), Martin Horwood (Cheltenham), Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye & Lochaber), Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West), John Thurso (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross), David Ward (Bradford East), Jenny Willott (Cardiff Central).