THE House of Commons will today vote on the controversial issue of gay marriage – and MPs across this region remain divided.

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Four of Suffolk’s seven MPs share Prime Minister David Cameron’s view that gay marriage should be legalised – with safeguards for religious groups who do not want to have to allow such unions.

But three Tory MPs have told the EADT they will vote against Mr Cameron.

In north Essex there is a similar split and nationally the party has no clear consensus.

The proposals are likely to be approved because a substantial majority of both Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs will back gay marriage.

In Suffolk Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter, South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo, and West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock will be backing gay marriage.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Suffolk Coastal’s Dr Therese Coffey are opposed to gay marriage.

Over the county border North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin supports gay marriage while Clacton MP Douglas Carswell and Witham MP Priti Patel are opposed.

Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester Sir Bob Russell said he would be voting in favour of gay marriage.

Mr Gummer emphasised it was a free vote: “The Prime Minister will be joining me in the lobby on this.

“I do not believe that the state should be able to discriminate between heterosexual and gay couples. There are safeguards for churches and other religious groups and this is not something the state should determine.”

He felt the issue was one which split along age profiles – with younger voters increasingly accepting gay marriage as a normal part of society.

Government ministers Mr Hancock and Dr Poulter are both supporting gay marriage in the lobbies.

Mr Hancock said: “I’ll be voting in favour because marriage is a wonderful thing, and should be available to everyone.”

And Dr Poulter has written to his constituents saying: “I do not believe that it is right to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation and it is for this reason that I shall be voting in favour of the proposals for same-sex marriage.”

Mr Yeo told the Prime Minister in December: “Your policy on gay marriage is admirably clear, and I am glad to say it has my full support.”

Mr Ruffley was one of 60 Tory MPs who wrote to culture secretary Maria Miller in December warning that the Government was ignoring public wishes over the issue.

He was concerned that even if there were safeguards put into legislation for churches and other faith groups there could be legal challenges in the future.

He said: “I think the history of the last few years shows that courts, both in this country or in Europe, would seek to challenge faith groups who wish to exercise their conscience to not carry out gay marriages.”

Dr Coffey felt the issue boiled down to the definition of marriage – she felt the proposed change was an attack on family life.

“I know there are those who will call this homophobic but it is not about that. I shall be voting to preserve family life.”

Mr Aldous said he had had more letters on this subject than anything else since he was elected to parliament.

He supported the change which allowed gay couples to enter civil partnerships, but did not feel it was right for the state to try to redefine marriage itself.

Mr Jenkin said he would be supporting the change because he accepted the assurances that the prime minister had given about the right of religious groups to refuse to hold gay marriage ceremonies.

Ms Patel has said that the Government should be concentrating on other priorities rather than gay marriage and Mr Carswell has said it is arrogant to change laws that have existed for centuries.

Sir Bob, however, said he would be supporting gay marriage: “In my experience may of the gay couples I meet have a very loving relationship and could teach heterosexual couples who are at daggers drawn over their children a thing or two.

“I would hope that Christians could show compassion to such couples and understand why we are supporting this change in the law.”

8 comments

  • The government did not seek a mandate for this. Difficult to understand who thinks this is important right now. Locally it seems more about our MPs advancing their careers. A gay marriage can never be the same thing legally as a heterosexual one and this proposal will ead to fundemental changes with the present legal condition.

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    amsterdam81

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Marriage has been around longer the church of England... And so has homosexuality... Never heard of Alexander the great? the church of England is not the law.

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    Scott Brock

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • This is wrong. Gays should respect the Church of Englands beliefs and not the other way round. Gay marriage is morrally wrong. The church has been around longer than gays

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    the opinion man

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Morally wrong? According to who? "Opinion is a funny thing, but truth outlasts the sun" What has an outdated, anachronistic organisation like the established church got to do with me and my life? The sooner we get rid of the Bishops out of the Lords the better too....

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    fuztownsend

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • What a 'Gay' day ! Anybody seen any ex-public schoolboys ? Oh !, their running the country ! God help us !

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    freedomf

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • amsterdam81, well if Government required a mandate for everything, then every single policy would be in parties manifestos and we'd constantly be having refererenda. What's more, opinion polling - a good enough barometer of how people feel - consistently shows a majority in favour. Legalising same-sex marriages is abosolutely the right thing to do. Scott Brock - that's such an historically ignorant statement I barely know where to start. The Opinion Man - there's a funny picture of Henry VIII going around on the internet at the moment with a message along the lines of 'Henry VIII created a new church to divorce and then marry his wives. The Church of England will never hold the moral high ground on the 'true' meaning of marriage, which is constantly being redefined as (and rightly so) as we become a more accepting and equal society. Besides, I'm looking forward to marrying my same-sex partner in the next few years after we decided that a civil partnership wasn't for us. Do any of you really seek to deny our happiness?

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    IpswichExile

    Friday, February 8, 2013

  • So much of the argument against gay marriage is totally nonsensical. Marriage has only been traditionally between a man and a woman BECAUSE gays have been excluded in the past. All the suggested consequences of permitting gay marriage - incest, polygamy, bestiality, etc - do not happen in heterosexual marriage. At least when it does, it is not the fact that they are married that causes it. And finally, supporting your bigotry by quoting from a book that has been so thoroughly discredited as being a true representation of the word of God, is, in this day and age, totally ludicrous.

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    fuztownsend

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • The opinion man is incorrect. Homosexual relationships have been documented all the way back to ancient Greece, long before the Anglican Church. It boils down to equal rights and the majority (65%) are not opposed to living in a society where we grant them. The people making a fuss about this issue are either closeted themselves or bigoted. I am glad this bill will pass as will most people under the age of 40! In 30 or 40 years time we will look back in astonishment at the fact that equal rights were not granted to people because they happen to be gay,

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    fuztownsend

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

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