Wiltshire MP’s ‘no’ to gay marriage
12:00pm Thursday 7th February 2013 in By Anne Moore
North Wiltshire MP James Gray was one of those to vote against legalising gay marriage on Tuesday.
The free vote in the Commons was carried by 400 to 175, with 136 Conservative MPs voting against the bill.
Mr Gray said: “I decided to vote against the Bill for several reasons. The biggest single one is because I seek to represent North Wiltshire and I received several thousand letters opposing the bill and only two or three in favour.
“I was rather in favour of changing the name of civil partnership to marriage in register offices, but not to hold ceremonies in churches because people of religious convictions will be required to do something they don’t want to do and I think that’s wrong.”
He said attention would now turn to the House of Lords and he hoped they would do what they could to prevent the bill from becoming law.
Chippenham MP Duncan Hames, who voted for the Bill, said: “I took part in Parliament’s first debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill listening to thoughtful and at times moving speeches.
“My own small contribution was to ask the minister about those marriage registrars who felt unable to preside at same sex marriages who may fear for their jobs.”
The Archdeacon of Wiltshire, the Venerable Ruth Worsley, said: “Whilst many in the Church of England will have welcomed the passing of the gay marriage vote in the House of Commons, the church as a whole is unable to support the measure at this time.
“However, I wish to emphasise that everyone, no matter what their sexual orientation, is welcome in our churches.”
The Rev Andy Gubbins, parish priest at St Peter’s Church, Chippenham, said: “By removing gender difference as the basis of marriage, this Bill risks a hazier understanding of marriage growing in society at large; risks disconnecting marriage from its essence, which has been: the hallowing of sexual expression; bringing children into the world in strong, stable families; as well as providing good companionship for life.
“Enabling civil partnerships earlier this century was a good thing, and society and the church need longer to celebrate their full joy and justice. “By changing the meaning of ‘marriage’, this bill risks destroying such a consensus at this time.”
But Devizes vicar the Rev Colin Coward, 66, was delighted with the vote. He set up the campaign group, Changing Attitudes, which lobbies for more acceptance of same-sex relationships in the Anglican Church here and in Africa.
But Mr Coward, a homosexual, said: “A civil partnership is a legal contract that gives same-sex couples all legal rights and protection but it doesn’t have the social status and values that go with marriage.”
Devizes MP Claire Perry said: “Marriage is the bedrock of our society and anything that strengthens it is to be supported – and in my view this move will strengthen, not weaken, marriage. I reach this view as a practising Christian and it is one shared by our own bishop, Nicholas Holtam.
“I therefore support this legislation, although the irony of the matter is that urgent Government business required me to miss the vote.”
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