British Government determined to press ahead with gay marriage: MinisterThursday, May 10th, 2012
There will be no U-turn on British Government plans to legalise same-sex marriage, according to the Liberal Democrat Minister responsible for crafting the legislation.
Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, said that before the next general election, same-sex couples would be given the legal right to marry, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Her words came as senior Tories, including one Government minister, suggested that the Government's focus on issues like same-sex marriage had cost the Conservatives seats in last week's council elections.
Ms Featherstone said the Coalition would continue to focus on “core issues,” such as reducing the deficit, at the same time as introducing laws allowing same-sex couples to marry by the end of this Parliament.
Since last week’s poor election results for both Coalition parties, a succession of Conservatives have demanded that David Cameron and Nick Clegg abandon, “fringe issues,” and focus on the economy. Miss Featherstone insists that the coalition can introduce same-sex marriage and secure the economic recovery at the same time.
“In the aftermath of a tough set of election results for both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, I couldn’t help but notice a few naysayers popping up in the media and uttering dire warnings about a government that needs to concentrate on core issues rather than same sex civil marriage,” she said.
“For goodness sake, it’s not either or. The economy is clearly the number one priority, but the Coalition can multi-task! There will be no u-turn on equal marriage. We are committed as a government to legislate by 2015.”
Earlier this year, she launched a public consultation on how civil marriage reforms can be introduced to allow same sex couples to wed.
The plans explicitly rule out reforming religious marriage. The Prime Minister has been a vocal supporter of the change. But a significant number of Conservative MPs, including ministers, have objected to the proposals. MPs are expected to be given a free vote on any legislation reaching the Commons.
Gerald Howarth, a Government Minister, said Mr Cameron needs to, “listen to some of the concerns,” that the party is not being conservative enough on traditional issues.
"There are issues, for example, like the proposals for gay marriage," he told the BBC.
"A lot of Conservatives have written to me saying 'I am a lifelong Conservative, there is no mandate for this, why is this being proceeded with?”
A poll carried out towards the end of last month showed that the Conservative Party could lose up to thirty parliamentary seats and over 1.1 million votes if it continues with plans to redefine marriage, according to the Daily Express.
The poll, conducted by ComRes, shows that the party’s support for gay marriage is alienating former Tory voters. For every disaffected Tory supporter attracted back to the party, it loses almost three because of its stance on the issue.
by Tom O'Gorman