St Albans and Harpenden MPs vote against gay marriage

PUBLISHED: 12:47 06 February 2013 | UPDATED: 14:35 06 February 2013

Gay marriage vote

Gay marriage vote

Archant

TWO local MPs voted against legalising same-sex marriage after a five-hour Parliamentary debate last night.

St Albans MP Anne Main and Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley joined 134 other Conservative rebels who refused to back the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

But despite opposition, the plans were pushed through with 400 MPs voting in favour of the historic legislation.

Mrs Main, who indicated last year she planned to vote against her party, said: “Up until the day of the debate I have endeavoured to engage with and listen to groups on both sides of the argument, and I respect that both opinions are deeply held and genuinely felt.

“I also consulted widely amongst my faith communities and have discussed the matter with my Bishops. Given the sensitivity of this matter I have encouraged people to send me their views, and as of today, nearly nine hundred contacts, some representing groups or families, have contacted me opposing this bill; sixty five have contacted me in favour.”

She continued: “That said I have given great consideration to this matter which is a sensitive issue. I cannot support this legislation which I think is deeply flawed and will inevitability be challenged.”

As part of the measures same-sex couples would be permitted to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, provided that the religious institution had consented.

Couples already in a civil partnership would also be allowed to convert their arrangements into legally recognised marriages.

Outlining his reasons for opposing the bill, Mr Lilley said: “My constituents didn’t hesitate to let me know their views in their hundreds but I am not here just to count heads.

“My best judgement was this is an unnecessary change and it makes us a marginally less free country. It is changing the name of civil partnerships which already exists. It is now requiring us to refer to that as marriage.”

After the vote was announced last night (February 5) Twitter erupted with comments about the two Tory MPs.

Joe Maher, of Wheathampstead, wrote: “Anne Main & Peter Lilley embarrass the people of St Albans & show how out of touch they are with real people.”

Josh Molloy, of Maplefield, St Albans, also commented: “Anne Main does not speak for me. Her decision to oppose the introduction of same-sex marriage is a disgrace and a kick in the teeth to all those who believe in genuine equality.

He added: “Tuesday’s vote was an important step forward in the fight for equality. Anne Main is on the wrong side of history and probably knows it.”

Hertsmere MP James Clappison voted in favour of the bill.

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