Medway councillors to debate gay marriage
Tory councillors could be forced this week to
vote on whether they support gay marriage.
Labour members say Medway Council should pledge explicitly to
support the civil unions, which have caused rifts among
Conservatives in Westminster and in other parties such as UKIP.
They have drafted a motion to be
voted on by all councillors at a full council meeting this Thursday
– but it could descend into a political row.
The motion calls on the council to acknowledge the last Labour
government’s “positive efforts to support lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender rights”, such as equalising the age of consent at
16, introducing civil partnerships and gay adoption rights.
The motion also calls on council leader Rodney Chambers (Con)
explicitly to write to two of Medway’s Conservative MPs to persuade
them to support gay marriage.
Although Chatham MP Tracey Crouch supports same-sex marriages,
Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti, who is also a councillor,
has said he is against them. Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless
has said he is undecided.
The motion asks for: “The chief executive and the leader of the
council [to] write an open letter to Mark Reckless and Rehman
Chishti requesting they vote in favour of any parliamentary vote
supporting equal marriage rights.”
It was drafted by Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab) and submitted by
Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab - pictured left), both of whom claimed it
was not a party political move.
Cllr Murray said: “It is important the council sends a clear,
united and cross-party message that we back the coalition
government’s policy for equal marriage, which is supported by
A bill before parliament has proposed giving gay couples the
right to civil marriage, over and above the right to civil
partnerships, but would allow religious groups the choice of
whether or not to perform ceremonies.
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