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Gay marriage vote causes Tory rift

Gay marriage vote causes Tory rift

The Prime Minister has called legislation permitting gay marriage “a step forward for our country”, but in backing the proposals has caused a rift within the Conservative party.

The legislation cleared the first hurdle in a House of Commons vote on Tuesday by a sweeping margin of 400 to 175. Labour and Liberal Democrats generally backed the plans, which would allow homosexual couples to marry in the same way as heterosexual couples. However, 136 Tory MPs opposed the legislation, with 127 voting in favour and 40 either abstaining or not voting.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Cameron said:

“Strong views exist on both sides but I believe MPs voting for gay people being able to marry too, is a step forward for our country.”

Members spent more than six hours debating the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. Tory MPs were outspoken in condemning the measures, with chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Graham Brady saying he had “serious misgivings” over assurances on religious freedom. Sir Gerald Howarth said the Government had no mandate for such a “massive social and cultural change” as it was not mentioned in the Conservative manifesto for the 2010 election.

However, culture secretary Maria Miller said the legislation would make England and Wales “a fairer place to live”. She said that under the rules, religious organisations not wanting to conduct gay marriages would still have protection.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, who saw 22 of his own MPs vote against the legislation, said:

“The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love.”

Amanda Melton, Partner and head of IBB’s Family & Matrimonial team commented:

“Gay Marriage has been a hot topic for debate for some time now and it will be very interesting to see what, if any, impact that new legislation will have on Family Law.

“Marriage is an important historic institution and many people are of the opinion that the traditional marriage ceremony should only take place between a man and women. Many religious groups are also opposed to the idea of gay marriage and do not feel that there is a place for it in church, despite proposals to offer protection to allow places of worship to opt out of such ceremonies.

“A large proportion of society and now the Commons, however, feel that marriage should not be exclusive to a man and a women and that the law should equalise marriage so that gay couples can enjoy a marriage ceremony and have the choice to place a value on their relationship and love for one another like any other couple.

“It appears that gay couples are increasingly being recognised as equals to heterosexual couples and although a civil partnership carries many of the same legal rights as a marriage there are still some areas of law that the government will need to address to reflect these controversial changes.

“Under current law for example, a heterosexual couple can divorce on the grounds of adultery. Gay couples however cannot dissolve their civil partnership on the same grounds as adultery is only recognised by law as taking place between a man and women. A heterosexual marriage can be annulled if consummation of the marriage does not take place but this is not the case for civil partners.

“It has been suggested that the same rules will apply to same sex couples and that such issues will be for the Courts to work out but if government’s aim is to homogenise marriage and prevent discrimination then issues like this would clearly need addressing.”

Our Family and Matrimonial team helps families across West London and Bucks. For advice, contact a member of the team, call us on 01494 790058 or email familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk.