Gay marriage plans split county's MPs
MPs are due to vote on
gay marriage today
Two Kent MPs who oppose gay marriage have provoked a hostile
their views as the debate on the issue continues in the House
Tonbridge and Malling MP Sir John Stanley issued a statement
his position which said gay marriage could be "positively damaging"
Outlining his reasons for opposing the Bill, he wrote: "I
consider enshrining gay marriage into law will be unhelpful and in
some cases positively damaging to young people going through the
perfectly normal phase of being attracted to other young people of
the same sex before arriving at a heterosexual orientation
Comments on social media sites took issue with the
"What about those going through a straight phase? Does he want
abolish that just to be on the safe side?" wrote one.
Others said his argument was "absolute rubbish" and "complete
Meanwhile, Thanet North MP Roger Gale was forced to issue a
statement denying that he had compared gay marriage to incest.
In the Commons, he had said: "There is a way forward. It has
been suggested but it has been ignored.
"I do not subscribe to it myself but I recognise the merit in
the argument, and that is this; if the government is serious about
this, take it away, abolish the civil partnerships bill, abolish
civil marriage, and create a civil union bill that applies to all
people, irrespective of their sexuality or their relationships, and
that means brother and brothers, sisters and sisters and brothers
and sisters as well.
"That would be a way forward. This is not."
As critics took him to task over the comment, he rushed out a
which sought to clarify his position.
"I appreciate that the world is obsessed with sex but this has
to do, simply, with the legal and property rights of those who are
at present excluded from protection under the Civil Partnerships
Act," he said.
"I consider enshrining gay marriage into law will be unhelpful and in some cases positively damaging to young people" – MP Sir John Stanley
As many as 100 MPs
are reported to be voting against the move and a number of the
county's 16 Conservative MPs are among them.
The scale of the opposition has grown in recent weeks with many
grass root Conservatives indicating their unease about the plan,
fearing it will alienate traditional supporters.
Those who have already said they will defy the government are:
Roger Gale (Thanet North); Julian Brazier (Canterbury); Gareth
Johnson (Dartford); Adam Holloway (Gravesham); Charlie Elphicke
(Dover) and Rehman Chishti (Gillingham).
Those who intend backing the Bill include the Maidstone and
Weald MP and equalities minister Helen Grant; the sports minister
Hugh Robertson; Ashford MP and policing minister Damian Green and
Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins.
Among those yet to indicate how they will vote are Thanet South
MP Laura Sandys.
Equalities minister Helen Grant (pictured below) said in a
interview with The House Magazine:
think it's pretty consistent, personally, with who we
[Conservatives] are and what we're trying to achieve, which is a
fairer, richer, more equal society in many ways.
"For me, as a Christian, I see it as about justice, equality,
fairness, ending discrimination and opening up marriage to more
people on the basis that marriage is a very special
"We shouldn't be stopping people from getting married unless
there's a very good reason, and being gay, lesbian, bisexual is not
one of them."
Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins said he acceped people
would have different views: "A lot of the concerns people had about
the Bill have been resolved, such as allowing churches to opt
"I believe that this will create a more equal society when
anyone can already get married in a registry office."
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said: "I believe that civil
partnerships are perfectly fine as they are and there doesn't seem
to be any reason at this stage to change that system."
Gravesham MP Adam Holloway, the son of a Church of England
is not equalisation - it is redefinition. Marriage is meant to
be between a man and a woman. Two of my staff are in civil
"I asked them what they thought and their views were quite
said: 'Marriage is something heterosexual people do.'"
Among the more forthright critics is Canterbury MP Julian
previously raised concerns that it could cause problems for
religious affairs teachers, warning they might face legal action if
they disagree with the Government's same-sex marriage laws.
"I remain concerned about the unintended consequences of this
legislation on other members of our community.
"What safeguards shall be in place to ensure a Christian teacher
has the right to free speech?" he said.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill would allow gay couples to
wed in both civil and religious ceremonies, where the religious
setting had consented.
Couples already in a civil partnership could convert their union
into a marriage.
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