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Britain’s Conservative Party Splitting Over Gay Marriage

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Dec 12, 2012
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As the U.K. government inches closer to legalizing same-sex marriage, Britain’s conservative party is attempting to fight back and arguing that gay marriage would corrupt "normal marriage" and force the Church of England to allow same-sex marriages, the Guardian reports.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday, however, that the British government announced it would introduce a bill next year that would legalize gay marriage but ban the Church of England from holding same-sex ceremonies. Still, Tories have been divided on the controversial issue and some have raised concerns on how the legalization of gay marriage would negatively impact society.

The Guardian points out that one Tory Member of Parliament said marriage equality would undermine "normal marriage," while another argued that polygamy would become the next hot button issue after same-sex marriage is legalized.

Another Tory MP said that European judges would force the Church of England to permit gay marriages and Tory MP David Davies, even said that most parents don’t want gay children because they wanted to be grandparents, according to another Guardian article.

"I think most people are very tolerant and have no problem at all if people are gay but - and I hate to say this, in a way, because I expect it’s going to cause controversy - but I think most parents would prefer their children not to be gay, knowing most parents want grandchildren if nothing else," he said.

Davies (sort of) defended himself, however, and said he was not a bigot and tweeted that he trained with a gay boxer.

"Once fought gay boxer. Respect & like. trained with after bout so not bigoted. activists calm down - listen to other views," he wrote.

U.K.’s conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has also been slammed with backlash from Tories over his support for marriage equality and for backing the new legislation, the Guardian points out.

Equalities minister Maria Miller said Britain’s new legislation would allow same-sex civil marriages and will permit religious ceremonies if religions decide to "opt in," AP notes.

"I feel strongly that, if a couple wish to show their love and commitment to each other, the state should not stand in their way," Miller said. "For me, extending marriage to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, this vital institution."

Some religious groups, like the Quakers and the liberal Jews, have stated that they want to hold same-sex ceremonies but the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches strongly oppose marriage equality and the new legislation would not force them to hold such ceremonies. The measure would also protect ministers who refuse to marry gay couples from being sued for discrimination.

"No religious organization will ever be forced to conduct marriages for same-sex couples," Miller said.

U.K.’s conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has also been slammed with backlash from Tories over his support for marriage equality and for backing the new legislation, the Guardian points out.

"I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution," Cameron said. "But let me be absolutely 100% clear, if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn’t want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it. That is absolutely clear in the legislation. Also let me make clear, this is a free vote for members of parliament, but personally I will be supporting it."

Conservative MP David Burrowes told the Guardian that many members of the cabinet will vote against Cameron and that the protections the measure offers "will not be sufficient."

"It is an attempt by the state to redefine marriage. This is not just about the freedom of churches to administer gay weddings," he told the publication. "It is about the freedom of public sector workers and others to exercise their liberty of conscience. It has opened a can of worms."

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2012-12-13 16:47:45

    I believe David Cameron is acting in a truer conservative spirit than opponents of marriage equality. Cameron recognizes the need to support ALL families and ALL marriages, whereas opponents of marriage equality seem to believe government has a right to tell people who they should or should not marry. As for the canard proposed by the religious right that allowing marriage equality interferes with religious rights and freedom, that is simply a lie. The fact is that no marriage equality law or proposal has ever interfered with churches acting in accord with their own teachings.


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