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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Cumbrian MP Rory backs gay marriage proposal

A Cumbrian MP has defended a plan to introduce gay marriages.

Rory Stewart photo
Rory Stewart

This follows condemnation of the move by the Bishop of Lancaster, who has responsibility for the Catholic church in Cumbria.

The bishop said that if MPs voted in favour of the legislation it would prove “seriously detrimental to one of the pillars of our society which is family life”.

Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, said that while he did not feel it was a priority at this time, now that it had been brought forward he fully supported the idea.

He said: “It is nothing to do with the church – it would be illegal under the proposed legislation to conduct a gay marriage in church – it’s not something that people should see as a threat to religion. It is a civil question.

“I think people have very strong religious beliefs and it’s not the Government’s job to impede on people’s beliefs. That should extend to the church if they don’t want to marry same sex couples.

“I wouldn’t have brought this subject forward, it’s not a priority, I’d rather it was not raised. But now that it has been raised I think I will be voting in favour of same sex marriage in a civil setting.”

He added that, under the existing legislation, civil partnerships were effectively marriages and the proposed legislation would give same sex couples more recognition in the eye of the law – with equal rights in areas such as inheritance, insurance and tax matters as heterosexual couples.

“I don’t think that’s something that’s wrong, it’s right, it’s a natural extension of our policies” he said.

Mr Stewart said that he realised that a lot of his constituents were “angry and upset” by the proposals.

On Wednesday, Michael G Campbell, the Bishop of Lancaster, said that, despite the widespread opposition evident in recent consultation, the Coalition Government appeared determined to introduce the legislation which would redefine the traditional understanding of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

He added: “This Government proposal, if passed into law will, I believe, prove seriously detrimental to one of the pillars of our society which is family life, and carries extremely worrying long-term consequences for the family as we know it.”

He urged everyone who cared about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their MPs.

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