The single sex marriage Bill


              Today we will vote on the Bill. I have found this a difficult and divisive issue within my constituency and in the Conservative party. I came to it with no preconceptions.

             As a modern Conservative I understand the wish to allow people to live their lives as they choose, as long as they do not harm others.  There is a strong impulse to freedom in Conservatism which can pioneer desirable social reform. I suspect the reformers will win the vote today on the grounds that the law should not prevent same sex people marrying if they wish.

            I also understand the strrength of feeling of many traditional Conservatives, who say Parliament should not change or reform long established institutions without good reason. They write to me to say they support civil partnership,  but for religious, historical and legal reasons think marriage has to be defined as a relationship between a woman and a man.  They do not write as bigots, though they are often criticised as such. They point out that the Conservative Manifesto of 2010 did not contain a pledge to change the law of marriage. They point out my personal Manifesto did not do so either.

           National polling shows that a majority of the public supports the Bill. It also shows that opposition is strongest amongst religious groups,and amongst ethnic groups that have preserved a greater sense of the importance of faith in their lives.

           My consultation with constituents has been wide ranging.  Some  have responded  to the website request on the blog, where a majority favour the Bill by a margin of 4 to 1.  I have also  had 96 letters against and 7 in favour in reply.  More have responded to my Parliamentary email, where a large majority have opposed the Bill. In the last two days alone I have had 4 emails in favour and 45 against.

           I am very conscious that I cannot please everyone when the constituency is so split. I will keep my word and vote for  the side that wrote in in larger numbers, which means voting No to the Bill.


  1. Martin Cole
    February 5, 2013

    I tried to condense the dilemma into a tweet yesterday and came up with the following:

    @IroniesToo: It isn’t within Parliament’s power to change definition of English words. They could enact that biscuits are inedible & tin, but they ain’t

    I think the post above describes your dilemma well, but MPs not being empowered to redefine English is a more compelling argument in favour of your voting NO!

  2. Martin Cole
    February 5, 2013

    I tried to compress my thoughts into a tweet on this topic yesterday and came up with the following:

    Martin Cole ‏@IroniesToo
    It isn’t within Parliament’s power to change definition of English words. They could enact that biscuits are inedible & tin, but they ain’t

    I think the explanation of your reasoning in the post above is interesting, but more compelling for me is that MPs are not empowered to change longstanding definitions of English words, their writ does not run far enough for a start!

    1. Sir Richard Richard
      February 5, 2013

      Oh that’s a truly delicious point.

  3. Vicky George
    February 5, 2013

    I am pleased you are voting no. I have nothing against gay people and if they wish to get married I know there are plenty of places where they can hold a civil ceremony but I would hate to think that at some future date my Church may be forced into holding ceremonies. I do not trust Europe not to do that although whether they would or not I don’t know for sure.

    The other point I would make is that I read there would be no such thing as adultery in gay marriages – why? If a partner has sex with someone outside the marriage then surely that is adultery? If that ruling applies to gay marriages why not to heterosexual marriages too? The whole thing has not been thought through properly and with so much else wrong with this Country at the moment it should have been bottom of the heap as far as priorities go. Sorry but that’s what I feel about it.

    1. Ken Adams
      February 5, 2013

      I think the problem was a lack of legal definition of sex between same sex couples, without such it would be impossible to claim adultery.

      Interesting point as I understand it promiscuous activity is already grounds for dissolving a civil partnership.

    2. Nicol Sinclair
      February 5, 2013

      Vicky: How true, how very, very true… I agree with ALL that you say.

      1. Mike Stallard
        February 6, 2013

        Mr Redwood, I commend your attitude. You are truly representing your constituency.

  4. Martin Sewell
    February 5, 2013

    I am not your Constituent,

    I think it worth noting that it is not only this Bill undermining traditional Marriage. In the Supreme Court we have Lady Hale developing a line of Jurisprudence by which the unmarried have quasi-marriage rights/obligations imposed upon them. If one is de facto “married” by judicial decision, what is the Institution for?

    The PM and others do not have this wider perspective.

    He attacks the EU for progressing ” ever closer union” secretly and without a mandate but has ambushed his party with gay marriage in precisely the same way.

    It will be impossible to defend him as an honourable man when his new found progressive allies begin to attack him again as they most assuredly will.

    1. Sir Richard Richard
      February 5, 2013

      Indeed. While everyone’s concerned about homosexual ‘marriage’, traditional marriage is being destroyed by the state (and this effect magnified by societal tendencies).

      It’s not easy for someone who believes in marriage (the traditional kind) to say ‘there are more important things to worry about’, but Peter Hitchens illustrates why it’s important to do so:

      ‘The real zone of battle, a vast 5,000-mile front along which the forces of righteousness have retreated without counter-attacking for nearly 50 years, involves the hundreds of thousands of marriages undermined by ridiculously easy divorce, the millions of children hurt by those divorces and the increasing multitudes of homes where the parents, single or in couples, have never been married at all and never will be. If we are to have a Coalition for Marriage (or C4M as it is modishly called), this would be territory on which it might fight with some hope of success.

      ‘Why should we care so much about stopping a few hundred homosexuals getting married, when we cannot persuade legions of heterosexuals to stay married?’

  5. JoolsB
    February 5, 2013


    This bill if passed will only apply to England and Wales. We know a huge proportion of Tories are going to oppose or abstain but the bill will still go through thanks to the Lib Dums and Labour but a huge proportion of those LibDum and Labour MPs will represent Scottish constituencies.

    What is insulting to the electorate is that not one of those Tory MPs who feel so strongly about this that they will couragously oppose the Government are equally as vociferous in demanding that those Scottish & NI MPs stay out of it. The Tories are tearing themselves apart over something which did not appear in the manifesto and yet they can’t even make a whimper about something which did – addressing the West Lothian Question, let alone the English Question.

    The Conservative Party have lost the plot John and sadly, Cameron, aided and abetted by his supine MPs are handing England over to Labour on a plate come the next election.

  6. Old Albion
    February 5, 2013

    Does the Conservative party still believe it has the right leader?
    The (dis)United Kingdom is in the grip of a financial disaster. The EU continues to drive towards eradication of the nation state. Our military are still fighting pointless and unwinnable wars and dying or being maimed in the process.
    Immigration continues uncontrolled, over-stretching public services, benefits and the tolerance of (dis)UK citizens.
    England remains the only country in the EU without a government.
    Yet Cameron spends hours of government time pandering to the homosexual lobby. With a policy pulled out of a hat, like a childrens entertainer performing at a jelly party.
    He tears apart his own minority government chasing the ‘pink’ vote. Voters who are not usually drawn to the Conservatives and will soon forget who gave them their ‘right’ to be married and carry on voting for the Left.
    All this, so that a section of society who live (as homosexuals-ed) can claim to be ‘married’
    What policy will he discover in his back pocket next? Polygamy perhaps? That’ll win a few votes from other minority sections of society.

    1. P O Pensioner
      February 6, 2013

      Well said Old Albion!

      Cameron has proven beyond any doubt that he is totally out of touch with his party and the country. To me he has finally told me that my vote will not be conservative at the next election, unless I move into an adjoining constituency. My constituency MP voted in support of this bill whilst all the surrounding Conservative MP’s voted against.

      I think it is only a matter of time before someone challenges in court their right to a same sex marriage in a church.

      Cameron once said he was the heir to Blair. Well the Blair years as Prime Minister have shown that much of the “modernising” legislation has proven to be considerably ill thought through and extremely damaging to our democracy and I give two examples – the Human Rights Act and the House of Lords reform.

      Cameron will go down as a one term premier who continued the screw up of our constitution by introducing minority legislation whilst neglecting the state of the economy and the wishes of the MP’s he is supposed to be leading. You can’t lead if no one wants to follow. He will hand the Labour Party a landslide election victory to a completely undeserving party led by a union sponsored left wing politician who will continue our economic decline. Milliband will do what Michael Foot wanted to do!

  7. David Smith
    February 5, 2013

    I look forward to you using the “biggest post bag wins” method for all future votes in parliament.

    Funny how so many MPs are “listening to their constituents” on this issue. On many others the views of the voters are ignored entirely. Anyone would think it was an excuse to avoid giving the genuine reason for voting against equal marriage.

    However you choose to justify your action, you are voting to keep gay people “at the back of the bus”. You will find, I think, that you are on the wrong side of history.

    1. Alan
      February 5, 2013

      Refreshing to find a sane comment on Mr. Redwood’s blog for a change. As you say, hiding behind the “biggest postbag” argument is a cop-out. I wonder if my MP will tell us his own personal views. He’s quite vociferous in explaining his thoughts on most other issues; why not equal marriage?

    2. Chris
      February 5, 2013

      Indeed; such sophistry is beneath you, John.

    3. Katie Palmer
      February 5, 2013

      Well said David Smith, so those who have written an email or letter out way the many that commented on this blog in favour of gay marriage. Another obvious display if how my local MP is out of touch with the majority or his constituents.

  8. Old Albion
    February 5, 2013

    John, i believe you know how much i appreciate this blog and your welcoming attitude to comment.
    (disagreemment about my editing out a description of homosexuality which I think would offend-ed)

    1. Joanna
      February 5, 2013

      Dear Old Albion, I can honestly say that what was not edited out was offensive enough. You sound like a right wing tabloid stooge.

      1. Old Albion
        February 5, 2013

        I’m probably just as ‘right wing’ as Mr Redwood.
        He is voting against Homosexual marriage.
        He has concerns as to how the government are dealing with the financial crisis.
        He supports the political recognition of England.
        He recently made an excellent speech Re. the creeping nature of a federal EU that makes our own government virtually impotent.
        He has voiced concerns about the level of immigration to the (dis)UK.
        To be fair, i’m not sure of his policy regarding our involvement in current wars. I’d be astonished if he was supportive of it!
        So yup, i’m definitely right-wing. Don’t work for the tabloids though!!

  9. Guy Crouchback
    February 5, 2013

    Dear Mr Redwood

    I am not your constituent. I respect your decision, but would respect it more if I sensed it was heartfelt.

    I am not a politician either and realise this type of choice is not easy. I also realise that there are times when you have to compromise with the majority view or whatever wisdom you deem superior to your own, but are you sure this is one of them?

    Or could it be that Edmund Burke’s famous warning to his own constituents applies here: “Your representative owes you… his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

  10. FrankFisher
    February 5, 2013

    Good man John. I have been involved in similar discussions with my own MP David Rutley who started off in favour of gay marriage, but has been won over. I’m hoping he holds his nerve and votes against today.

  11. David Jarman
    February 5, 2013

    Politics should stay out of ALL religion inc’ marriage.

  12. Hannah
    February 5, 2013

    I am one of your constituents – as many agreeing with you above have stated they are not. I cannot believe you are voting against though as you say, if this is how the majority of people have responded, my disbelief is of those I share a home town with.

    Wokingham was named the ‘best place to raise children’ last year. Clearly that only applies to children who are either not gay or just happy to be ‘civil partnered’. Really, what is the world coming to? It is the 21st century. We are no longer in biblical times, things have changed. No church is going to be forced into carrying out marriages – in the same way they currently have a right to refuse straight couples.

    I am sickened and disgusted that those who live around me are so narrow-minded and I’m afraid I’m not articulate enough in my anger to express its nuances. I am ashamed to call Wokingham my home.

  13. Benjamin Hook
    February 5, 2013


    I’m saddened to hear this. I didn’t expect you to vote ‘Yes’, but I had hoped that perhaps you would come around. Many of your peers are planning on equalising the rights of a minority today, and I believe that is something which should be at the forefront of any MP’s mind, and it is a shame that you are not planning to join them.

    Society has evolved, and it is great that the law is starting to catch up. It is a shame that you and the others who plan to vote ‘No’ have not, though I believe in a few years you will be thankful that most of your peers decided to vote ‘Yes’ on this issue. As most have felt about decriminalising homosexuality, civil partnerships and equalising the age of consent.

  14. Joanna
    February 5, 2013

    I am disappointed by this response.
    Firstly, as has already been pointed out, you don’t usually use “the most comments wins” criterion when voting on issues – but perhaps you will from now on.
    Secondly, I know many people who were not aware you were making this consultation, and I wonder how widely you published the fact?
    Thirdly, I do not believe that human rights issues should be based on a numbers game – ever. If it had always been done that way we would still have slaves, women would still not have the vote, or equal rights and religious minorities could be persecuted at will. The whole point about minority groups is that they are in the minority.
    You have been given the opportunity to vote as your conscience sees fit, but what I am hearing is that you have no conscience on this matter.
    You say that as you believe the vote will be passed it doesn’t matter that you shall vote against, what a strange attitude to democracy!

    I am disgusted by the attitude of some that implies your main concern here should be to retain conservative voters at the expense of a person’s human rights. It is shocking. I have found reading some of the above comments so very distasteful and am sad that I live in a country where people could be so openly prejudiced and care so little for their fellow human beings. I simply don’t get it.

  15. Simon_c
    February 5, 2013

    I am disappointed on several counts.
    * You have not published the number of comments for/against in your blog.
    * that implies that those comments have not been used by you in deciding how you vote.
    * Even worse, I think it’s a cop-out to vote in the way as directed by the number of emails & letters. In my view you did not make it clear in your initial post that blog comments would not count.

    Personally, I think you should vote in favour of the gay marriage proposals.

    Reply: I have counted them and included them – and they are there for all to see! From memory there were 52 for the Bill and 13 against on the blog (after taking out multiple emails from the same person), fewer than the letters which I also counted.

  16. Prue Bray
    February 5, 2013

    John, as you know I am your constituent. I agree entirely with Guy Crouchback and David Smith. Hiding behind your postbag is not good enough. I have a lot of respect for you even though I do not share your politics, but on this issue you are acting cravenly.

    Had I beaten you in the 2010 General Election instead of coming second, I would have voted for equal marriage today. It’s a shame you will not.

    Reply No, I am not acting cravenly. This is not an issue I have a strong view on myself, and not one I or my party even mentioned in the last election. I therefore felt it important to consult widely to hear the views of constituents. I suspect your view will be well represented today in the Commons by others. These very divisive issues make it important that Parliament reflects the range of views in our various communities. They also require careful handling not to make the tensions wrose.

  17. Jane Holmes
    February 5, 2013

    Homosexuality itself was illegal until the late 60’s. A law which now seems hugely discriminatory and outdated. The same will inevitably happen with gay marriage in the years to come as society progresses. I would be interested in the demographics of those vehemently ‘against’ and what the impact on that might be for the Party in the future … is a vote for ‘No’ really a wise investment in the long-term?

    I admire you John, but I am a bit disappointed in your decision today. You’ve always seemed so sensible and certain. But then I’m a Maidenhead voter, so I’m happy too …

  18. Bert Young
    February 5, 2013

    Well said . A “No” in today’s debate – whether it is heartfelt or not , is the only way to vote . I am not a religious person but I do support those who believe that marriage can only be between a man and a woman . I will follow up to see which way my MP votes ; obviously it will have a direct bearing on whether I will vote for him in the coming election .

    1. Andy
      February 6, 2013


      Did you support those is South Africa and the USA who believed that marrage could only be between a black man and black woman or a white man and white woman, but never between a white man and a black woman?

  19. margaret brandreth-j
    February 5, 2013

    Homosexuality is. Heterosexuality is so. We have gay villages , gay bars, gay dress, gay places where heterosexuals are ostracised, why not have a gay church?

    I would like to be married in an Anglican church, but havn’t got a partner . I would like to be married to God as a love union , not a sexual union, but that inequality will stand as the proposal would be just as eccentric to some as gay marriages are in the traditional church.

    I am tired of being discriminated because I want love and not sex. I am tired of being called Mrs as Miss makes others feel uncomfortable. I am tired of paying for a phantom partner on holidays. I am fed up of going into a pub to make others feel uncomfortable as I havn’t a partner. Why do gay peple think their rights are less than others?

  20. Peter Davies
    February 5, 2013

    This country is in an almighty mess after the labour years of wrecking our banks, the economy, social engineering and worst of all committing huge acts of treason by transferring huge chunks of power to a foreign bureaucracy so surely our MPs must have more pressing things to worry about than this.

    In a big picture context with the problems faced, surely this must be a trivial issue even though it will of course be important to some. Have we really sunk so far that govt has given away so much to the EU that there is little to vote on so this will fill parliamentary time and keep a few urban liberal lefties happy?

    I’m not for or against on this issue, and quite frankly I don’t really give a damn.

    What I would rather see govt do is:

    – democracy restored by the repatriation of all domestic powers from the EU

    – constituency boundaries balanced out so each vote is worth about the same

    – an arrangement put in place to address the “West Lothian question” for example MPs can only vote on matters which affect their constituencies like in this case only English and Welsh MPs should be voting

    – get these blasted banks put right even if it means killing off the bad bits

    – Get the deficit sorted out, start by kicking off a local govt service privatization initiative to cut down the size of the state and get everything delivered by contractors in a more efficient way (apart from the core professions of teachers, police, etc)

    These are the sort of things I would have expected the likes of Mrs T to sort out, not worrying about this wishy washy liberal leftie agenda.

  21. Ralph McHendry
    February 5, 2013

    I don’t agree with the proposal but I recognise that a majority in the country are in favour – or, at least, not against. So I’m happy to bow to that majority opinion.
    Two issues of concern. The first is that the proposal was not in the Conservative manifesto. The PM’s looking for popularity here and this episode doesn’t do him any favours. For example, none of my gay friends and colleagues think for a moment that he’s driven by anything other than winning a vote or two. Principle doesn’t come into it.
    Second, I understand that this is an issue of “equality”. If so, why isn’t gay marriage being institutionalised in Northern Ireland? My answer – you’re entitled to differ – is that the PM doesn’t want to take on the hierarchy (political and religious) in the province. He’s scared that it’ll lead him into a morass of violence and hatred.
    So much for equality. Gays in Northern Ireland will have to wait for a Prime Minister who’s made of sterner stuff.

  22. margaret brandreth-j
    February 5, 2013

    The more I listen to this debate , the more I am hurt that couples,couples, couples are all seen as being married before god . We are being discriminated against and pushed in a corner again and again. We as single people don’t seem to exist.It is nothing to do with equality , but being totally involved in their own relationship and not in a relationship with others in society. Love before god is something not found solely in partnerships.

  23. Antisthenes
    February 5, 2013

    I do not care one way or another about this bill. Having libertarian leanings though I would probably go with the principle of same sex marriage but not the bill because it is seriously flawed and I can foresee a lot of legal challenges to it in the future. However what I do like is the reason for the way you are going to vote. You have taken soundings and they tell you that your constituents at least oppose the bill and so you are going to vote no. This I see as democracy actually working as it is meant to work. To me MP’s are the peoples representative and in an ideal world would be apolitical hold no views of their own and only do their voters bidding. Politicians and political parties used to be the force that drove democracy forward. No longer they are now the force that is holding it back and many cases reversing it. So the time has come for politicians to relinquish the reins of power, which appears to in modern time have corrupted so many of them and hand them over to the people where they truly belong.

  24. Niki
    February 5, 2013

    Shame on you

  25. D Nico
    February 5, 2013

    You forgot the bit where you take out the bowl of water and symbolically wash your hands.

  26. Chris
    February 5, 2013

    Essential reading if you want to know why and how David Cameron has undertaken to enforce gay marriage by June 2013. The answer is on Richard North’s blog, with all the relevant links to European law and Strasbourg and the Council of Europe. Apparently we undertook to introduce gay marriage when we took on the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for six months from 7 November 2011 to 14 May 2012. To quote from
    “..And that is the real reason as to why Mr Cameron has invested so much political capital in the cause of “gay marriage”. Although we have not ratified Protocol 12, we have accepted unconditionally Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5, and undertaken to implement it by June 2013. Having made that commitment for the Chairmanship of the CoE, Mr Cameron has no choice but to see it through. In June, there is another Committee of Ministers to consider a report on the implementation of the Recommendation, when he is to be called to account for his earlier commitment.
    Mr Cameron has no intention of disappointing his LGBT colleagues in Europe. Being the good European that he is, he will do what it takes to get his Bill through Westminister…”.

  27. Barbara Stevens
    February 5, 2013

    Mr R, I applaud you, for your decision. A real true Conservative value and action. I can understand your reservations for the ‘yes’ camp, and can feel for those who wish to say yes. However, I, like many others, believe we have gone far enough to accomodate this section of society. I am in favour of maintaining traditional values and beliefs, things which have stayed with us for years and been our main stay for this country. I cannot understand Mr Cameron’s stance on this and why its become such a whirlwind thing to get through in parliament. It has created contention within the Conservative party, where we see activists and members leave, is it really worth it in the end? I don’t think so.

    1. Simonro
      February 6, 2013

      Some traditional conservative arguments for you:

      “… all government rests ultimately on force, to which women, owing to physical, moral and social reasons, are not capable of con­tributing.”

      “…there is little doubt that the vast majority of women have no desire for the vote.”

      “…the acquirement of the Parliamentary vote would logically involve admission to Parliament itself, and to all Government offices. It is scarcely possible to imagine a woman being Minister for War, and yet the principles of the Suffragettes involve that and many similar absurdities.”

      “…women already have the municipal vote, and are eligible for membership of most local authorities. These bodies deal with questions of housing, education, care of children, workhouses and so forth, all of which are peculiarly within a woman’s sphere. Parliament, however, has to deal mainly with the administration of a vast Empire, the maintenance of the Army and Navy, and with questions of peace and war, which lie outside the legitimate sphere of woman’s influence.”

      And it goes on and on and on. I especially like the last one because it sounds an awful lot like your glorious “we have gone far enough to accommodate this section of society”.

  28. Chris
    February 5, 2013

    The rush to get this through parliament is apparently also associated with the Berlinguer report which is due to be voted through the European Parliament later this year:

    “It’s no surprise that the Prime Minister has kept quiet about this, even at the expense of cohesion in his own party. He has a hard enough time trying to force his own backbenchers to swallow both his dedication to keeping Britain in the EU and his wish for the state to interfere in the definition of marriage. To suggest that the two issues are in fact interconnected would have caused complete uproar.”

  29. Simonro
    February 5, 2013

    I am a constituent.

    I am not married; I struggle to understand why anybody feels it necessary to sign a government sanctioned contract to affirm their relationship.


    Any religiously based objection to anything is, ipso facto, bigoted. If anyone feels unfairly tarred by the word, then they should read its dictionary definition and ponder how much room there is for dissent against the supposed word of God.

    In addition it is difficult to see how any objection, religious or not, to something which does not affect you could be anything but authoritarian.

    So, bigoted and authoritarian. Not a pretty side to be on in a debate, especially one about the rights of a minority group. I guess it’s your conscience.

    On the other hand the arguments of the anti- side have been laughable, the religious claiming ownership of a concept that existed before their way of life was a twinkle in a cult leaders eye, and the ‘deeply conservative’ trying desperately to sound non-homophobic and coherent at the same time. I look forward to more of it in the Lords.

  30. Keith Blakemore-Nobl
    February 5, 2013

    Congratulations for voting to oppose equality, and to keep (homosexuals-ed) in their place – who do they think they are, daring to be asked to be treated as equal human beings?!

    As you point out, why should marriage be redefined? I mean it’s not as if in the 19th century inequalities prevented Catholics, atheists, Baptists and many others from marrying except in the Anglican Church – they can all marry in their own churches or even in non-religious premises. Clearly, marriage has changed.
    Oh, well it’s not as if in the 20th century the law was changed to recognise married men and married women as equal before law – prior to this change in definition of marriage, married women were the property of their husband. Again, this was a major change in the definition of marriage.

    Hmm, so that law HAS changed on marriage, yet the sky didn’t fall down.

    (I wonder if those opposing the equal treatment of their fellow humans might wish to demand that the 19th and 20th century changes be removed, rendering wives the property of their husbands again?)

    You also rightly point out that this (word left out-ed) gay marriage (or, to give it its correct term, marriage) was never mentioned in the election.
    It’s not as if the Conservative Party’s Contract for Equalities, published alongside its General Election Manifesto in 2010, set out clearly that they would consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage. (You do READ what your party writes during elections, don’t you?)

    Mr Redwood, next time we meet I expect you to look me in the eyes and explain precisely why you feel that I am an inferior creature not deserving of the same human rights which you have, for that is EXACTLY what you have communicated with this blog post.

    You even start by admitting that equal treatment for all is not something particularly important to you. Interesting that you post THAT on the day after the 100th birthday of Rosa Parks…

    Reply: I have edited your piece as the language was unpleasant towards homosexuals. I have explained how I came to my decision on how to vote, which illustrates that your attack on me is quite unjustified. I was a passionate opponent of segregation in the US and apartheid in Sout Africa, and always proud of our country’s role in getting rid of the slave trade it had so wrongly helped develop.

    I read the Conservative Manifesto which did not include any firm promise to legislate on this matter. Where necessary I made my own declaration of my intentions where they differed from the party – for example promising to vote for an EU referendum, which I duly did in 2011 in this Parliament.

  31. margaret brandreth-j
    February 5, 2013

    Just let me get this right. Couples who have loving and fulfilling realtionships which mean more to them than anything else want equal rights. I should be so lucky to be equal to them.

  32. Chris
    February 5, 2013

    Excerpts from article by Dignity Watch, Nov. 2010,on the Berlinguer report, which is due to be voted through the European Parliament this November: provides explanation of Cameron’s wish to rush this legislation through?
    “..If the report passes as drafted now, it would violate severely the principle of subsidiarity, a key founding principle of the EU. There is an obvious risk to undermine the sovereignty of the Member States in family law and specifically the definition of marriage in their own country by shifting a definition of marriage from family law – which is an exclusive competence of the Member States – to procedural law (mutual recognition of civil law documents, Stockholm program).

    Furthermore, since the implementation of the Stockholm program is a legal act of the European Union, it needs to respect the non discrimination article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. A Member State’s “refusal to acknowledge the ‘married’ status of a same-sex couple and its effects would fall under the non discrimination clause and therefore deemed illegitimate…”

  33. Rob
    February 5, 2013

    This is not a surprise. The idea of John Redwood voting for this was always about as likely as Cameron winning the next election. Did you vote against gay adoption, repealing section 28, Civil Partnerships and every other piece of gay rights legislation because your constituents wanted you to? If so, Wokingham sounds like a horribly backward place.

  34. James Sutherland
    February 5, 2013

    I lean in the other direction – I would have been inclined to support the main aim, subject to the details being acceptable – but I support and applaud John’s reasoning and methodology here.

    (My own MP abstained, being a Scottish one with a policy of abstaining on English laws – another position I can support wholeheartedly.)

  35. David Langley
    February 6, 2013

    You did the right thing JR.

  36. margaret brandreth-j
    February 6, 2013

    I was disgusted with comments in the house which were allowed to stand in parliament yesterday . No one considered the sensitivities of the single person . The ageist comments were very obvious with some saying it is a certain age group which mainly are against gay marriage , trying to pigeon hole an outlook with an age group. I personally don’t care where gays get married The problem is the attention that is given to this group of people whilst the real maltreated are overlooked ignored and made to feel an outcast.

  37. Jane Holmes
    February 6, 2013

    There are about 4 million gay people in this country. Plus an awful lot of heterosexual people who support gay marriage.

    It’s a lot of votes …

  38. Anthony Turtle
    February 6, 2013

    My congratulations, sir, for reflecting the wishes of your constituents, of who I am not one. I can only hope that those who asked you to vote in a certain way were constituents.

    I only wish that this could be rolled out as a national system, with checks to ask MPs to vote a certain way, rather than “Toeing the Party Line”.

    Reply We did make some checks to see they were constituents.

  39. lojolondon
    February 6, 2013

    John, I want to compliment you as probably one of very few MP’s who consults their constituents when deciding a matter, and not the whips! Thank you for your considered posing above.

  40. Karen Hall
    February 6, 2013

    I am a constituent. I am deeply disappointed at the postbag approach. I do not want an MP who absolves himself of responsibility for making a decision. Surely the postbag method of decision making is deeply flawed. If 1000 of your constituents want you to bring back capital punishment, will you ignore one well-argued letter explaining why that would be a bad thing? Of course not.

    Reply I do n ot usually use the postbag method, but chose to do so on this issue as I realised how strong the passions were on both sides in view of the fact that I had not expressed a view on this matter prior to the election. On most issues I make my position clear in advance.

    1. lojolondon
      February 6, 2013

      Karen, you are wrong. This is a democracy, so the correct answer is ‘yes’ (ie. 1 well-written letter will be not carry the weight of 1,000 (ordinary?) ones.)

      Your example exposed the hypocrisy of your argument – we all know that the British public support a return of the death penalty, so MP’s deciding they know better is not just pompous, it is evading their core responsibility, which is TO REPRESENT THEIR CONSTITUENTS. Nothing else.

      1. Bob
        February 7, 2013

        I want to be clear about this, it’s really important, there should be no change to age old customs without referral to a plebiscite.

        Cameron did not want the electorate to have any say on the matter because he knows what the answer would be.

        The simple fact is that there was no urgency to change the definition of marriage, and no reason to rush it through before the next election.

        We had a referendum on AV and it could have been put to the electorate at the same time if Cameron thought it was so important.

  41. Paul
    February 6, 2013

    I was disappointed to learn that only one MP, Peter Bone, was calling for this issue to be decided in a referendum. I think I am right in saying that in the US states where gay marriage is legal it has been decided by a referendum. Social issues like this should be decided by the people not politicians. Like JR I have no strong views on this issue, I would prefer marriage to remain as it is but accept this should be debated and decided by the people. Membership of the EU, capital punishment and gay marriage should be put to the British people (and in that order). What a pity that nearly all MPs detest referendums.

  42. Corryn
    May 19, 2013

    What the Hell is going on. There should be no question about it. Everyone should have equal rights no matter what colour race or sexual preference. Who are we to say people are wrong with the way they want to live. We let people get married so easily that only do it for money or to stay in the country, but when two people that really love each other want to get married you say no. Its not right at all. I live in Wokingham and i vote YES to get gay marriage. You should ask all of Wokingham before you speak for us

  43. Gabrielle
    May 20, 2013

    why some politicians can decide who can and CANT get married??!! I think they should be dealing with more important stuff, then gay marriage. Let them live how they want to….how would they like it, if some one tells them you CANT go to church, you CANT love this person???!!! What century do we live in???!!

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