Majority of local MPs back gay marriage

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The vast majority of MPs in the Bradford district last night backed a controversial Bill to legalise gay marriage - but three of them, two Tories and one Labour, voted ‘no’.

Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe (Bradford South), Respect MP George Galloway (Bradford West) and Liberal Democrat David Ward (Bradford East) all said they backed the measure.

And Conservative MPs voting for the legislation included Kris Hopkins (Keighley), Julian Smith (Skipton) and Stuart Andrew (Pudsey).

But those Tories voting ‘no’ included Philip Davies (Shipley) and Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley), who defied David Cameron’s plea that gay marriage would make society stronger, and Labour’s Mike Wood (Batley and Spen) also voted against.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill – allowing same-sex weddings, including ceremonies in some churches that agree – is now poised to become law.

However, it only cleared a crucial Commons hurdle with the overwhelming backing of Labour and the Lib Dems – with 139 Conservative MPs opposed and only 132 in favour.

Mr Andrew, who is openly gay, described the difficulty of growing up in a tiny Welsh village, telling MPs: “It really was like being the only gay in the village”

Arguing the current law was unfair, he added: “This does not undermine marriage. Offering it to others can only strengthen it and build the better society we all want.”

Mr Hopkins told MPs that the “vast majority of people” supported the Bill, arguing: “This is right, it’s right that we promote marriage to all.”

Mr Galloway said: “I have always supported equality and gay rights and I don’t believe that same-sex couples should be denied marriage if they so desire it.

“What I can’t accept is that churches should be forced to unwillingly perform ceremonies and the Government has made it clear to me, and in the Bill, that it won’t be the case.”

And Mr Sutcliffe said: “This is an equality issue – everyone should have the opportunity to get married and it’s the natural next step from civil partnerships.”

Mr Ward was in the Netherlands yesterday, so missed the vote. Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) also did not vote.

Outlining his reasons for voting against the Bill, Mr Davies described it as being badly drafted and said it had nothing to do with real equality.

“There is no great clamour for this, it is totally unnecessary and a very poor piece of legislation,” Mr Davies said.

“Promises that churches and teachers will be protected from litigation are not worth the paper they are written on.”

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