Prime Minister Cameron backs same-sex church weddings
David Cameron could face a possible backlash from the more conservative members of his own party after affirming plans to allow religious institutions to conduct same-sex weddings.
Mr Cameron said: “I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution… this is a free vote for Members of Parliament, but personally I will be supporting it.”
The draft legislation is to be released next week, and will be followed by a vote in the House of Commons when those who oppose gay marriage are saying that over 120 Conservative party members are going to vote against the bill, including one cabinet member who has already said he will be voting against the legislation.
The vote will be free for Conservative members – meaning they will not be obligated to follow the family line – and although Labour and the Liberal Democrats are yet to decide whether or not their votes will be free, it is thought that most of their party members will vote in favour of the legislation.
The legislation will include a “compromise” clause, which will say that although churches, synagogues and mosques are legally permitted to officiate weddings, they are not obliged to do so, and will never be forced into hosting same-sex marriage.
This in itself is thought in part to pose problems for the prime minister as the “opt-out” clause is alleged to be unlawful, meaning that the legislation could be annulled within months, despite government assurances that it wont be.
The announcement has, of course, drawn support and outrage from various groups and party members. MP for Harrow East, Bob Blackman, told the BBC that the proposals will cause “outrage throughout the country,” adding: “Marriage is between one man and one woman and so changes to the definition of marriage are not appreciated and not strongly supported.”
The Church of England opposes gay marriage and said: “To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships.”
However, the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, who support same-sex unions, said they were “hopeful that this will mean we will be free to conduct same-sex marriages in our places of worship”, whilst Benjamin Cohen of campaign group Out4Marriage said: “We’re delighted to hear that the government will be legislating to introduce full equal marriage.”