Conservative LGBT chairman voices ‘disappointment’ in Manchester MPs who voted against equal marriage bill

By Jon Robinson & Phil Jones

The chairman of the Conservative LGBT group has urged those Greater Manchester MPs who voted against the equal marriage bill last night to back it next time.

Matthew Sephton, also deputy chairman of the Altrincham and Sale West Conservatives, spoke after MPs historically passed the bill at its second reading 400 to 175.

Twenty-seven Greater Manchester MPs voted in favour, while five voted against and three were absent.

Mr Sephton said: “There were numerous MPs from Greater Manchester who voted against the bill.

“It is very disappointing to see this and I am sure they had their own reasons, be they religious, because of a fear of the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR].

“Or simply because they do not think their constituents want this measure to become law.

“I just urge those MPs who voted against this time to back it when it is next on the floor of the House of Commons.”

In her role as shadow minister for women and equality, Kate Green, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston, greeted the large in favour majority vote.

“Parliament took a step forward for equality, I’m delighted the bill passed its first vote – it’s something to celebrate,” she said.

“Same sex couples who love one another should have the same right as opposite sex couples to marry, as a sign of their commitment to each other.”

Among those who voted against was Graham Brady, Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale West, who stated recently he was concerned the bill would be challenged by the ECHR.

Mr Sephton said: “On the point of the ECHR, there are specific protections in the bill to ensure that religious institutions are not obliged to perform same-sex marriages against their wishes.

“This is no different to, for example, Catholic churches being able to refuse to marry divorcees and there has never been a case taken to the ECHR to force them to do that.

“The ECHR was established to protect religious freedom as part of its remit and this is exactly why this bill extends religious freedom, not diminishes it.”

Mr Sephton added last night on Twitter: “Hugely disappointed that my own MP, Graham Brady, voted against #EqualMarriage tonight.”

Before the vote, David Buttall, MP for Bury North, said: “I have always believed that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Paul Goggins, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, said: “Parliament has already legislated to provide equality for people of the same sex who live in long-term relationships and I voted in favour
of civil partnerships.

“But changing the definition of marriage to include same sex couples goes further and asserts that marriage between a man and a woman is the same as a committed relationship between two people of the same sex and I do not believe it is.

“Government ministers say that they have put this legislation beyond legal challenge, but I fear that this will not be the case once the law is changed.”

Mr Sephton added: “I am delighted that it is a Conservative Prime Minister leading on introducing equal marriage – the first Prime Minister ever to do so.

“I have every confidence that this bill will become law.”

Photo courtesy of FibonacciBlue, with thanks.

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