Mark Pawsey MP and Jeremy Wright MP voted against same-sex marriage in the Commons this week despite David Cameron’s wishes.
Both said they are strongly in favour of equality, but feel that civil partnerships go far enough in offering couples to demonstrate their commitment to each other. For Tuesday evening’s vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill David Cameron gave Conservative MPs a free vote. The vote was passed, with 400 MPs for, and 175 against.
Speaking before the vote, Mr Pawsey, MP for Rugby, said: “I have always been strongly supportive of the move towards equal rights across all communities and remain so. But this is an issue of conscience which, in the end, each Member of Parliament will be asked to consider on an individual basis.
“I believe that civil partnerships offer same sex couple the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to each other and because of this I intend to vote against any changes to the current arrangements.”
Mr Wright, who has constituents in Dunchurch and Southam, said he believed all couples in committed relationships should have access to the same legal rights. He said: “For that reason I supported civil partnerships which were designed to provide these rights. But, if there is to be a further change there must be a persuasive case for doing so. I have not yet heard such a case.”
The politicians have come under-fire from some, who say they’re out of touch.
Pete McLaren, spokesperson for Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), said: “Mark Pawsey is totally is totally out of touch with public opinion on this one.
“If marriage is considered by society to be something positive, why shouldn’t everyone, whatever their sexuality, be allowed to be married if that is what they want? Is Mr Pawsey that opposed to equality that he believes people should be discriminated against on the grounds of their sexuality?”
He added: “By insisting marriage and civil partnerships must be kept separate and distinct, opponents of equality still perpetuate the offensive notion that relationships between same sex people are not as stable, rich or valid as those between heterosexual couples. These views impact negatively on public attitudes towards gay people themselves.”