David Cameron | Gay Marriage | News | United Kingdom

Conservatives Urge British PM To Delay Vote on Marriage Equality

Over 25 members of UK Prime Minster David Cameron's Conservative Party have signed a letter asking the PM to delay Tuesday's vote on legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in that country. The letter was delivered to him Cameron, who supports the bill, today.

CameronReuters reports:

"...a letter signed by 25 past and present chairmen of local Conservative associations was handed in to Cameron's Downing Street residence on Sunday afternoon by six of the signatories. 'We feel very strongly that the decision to bring this bill before parliament has been made without adequate debate or consultation with either the membership of the Conservative Party or with the country at large,' the letter said. It added: 'Resignations from the party are beginning to multiply and we fear that, if enacted, this bill will lead to significant damage to the Conservative Party in the run-up to the 2015 election.'"

Also, the Daily Mail yesterday published an editorial by the UK's Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove in which he gives his support for marriage equality saying "marriage is not undermined by extending it to gay people – it is reinforced by including everyone equally."

UPDATE: Cameron will read the letter but it won't affect his decision.

Read the full text of the letter to Cameron, AFTER THE JUMP.

Dear Prime Minister,

We write to you as a body of long serving activists and volunteers of the Conservative Party with deep concern about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, to be considered by Parliament on 5 February 2013.

You will be aware of the level of controversy and division of opinion that surrounds these proposals in the country at large. However, we write specifically of our concerns about the growing discord within the Conservative Party over this issue.

We feel very strongly that the decision to bring this Bill before Parliament has been made without adequate debate or consultation with either the membership of the Conservative Party or with the country at large. We are of the clear view that there is no mandate for this Bill to be passed in either the 2010 Conservative Manifesto or the 2010 Coalition Agreement and that it is being pushed through Parliament in a manner which a significant proportion of Conservative Party members find extremely distasteful and contrary to the principles of both the Party and the best traditions of our democracy.

The decision to redefine the institution of marriage, without proper consultation and consideration of all consequences, intended and unintended, comes across as questionable and impatient. Moreover, to do so now, when the economy remains in an extremely perilous state, when the future of Britain’s position within the European Union and the integrity of our own Union is in question and when the Party trails 10% behind Labour in the latest polls, is a policy that a very significant number of Conservatives cannot support.

A ComRes poll published this weekend reports that 20% of those who voted Conservative in 2010 agree with the statement “I would have considered voting Conservative at the next election but will definitely not if the Coalition Government legalises same-sex marriage”.

In October 2012 ComRes found that 71% of Conservative Association Chairmen sensed that party members in their constituency opposed proposals to legalise same-sex marriage, just under half (47%) reported that their local association had lost members over the issue and over half (51%) felt that it made the party less attractive to voters. Then in November, the polling company discovered that amongst those who had voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 but wouldn’t do so today (a key target group), those who were ‘less likely to vote Conservative’ as a result of these plans outnumber those ‘more likely to vote Conservative’, three to one.

According to another ComRes poll in February 2012, 70% of British adults agreed that ‘marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman.’

To dismiss these strongly held views as those of an extremist minority, or a minority at all, would be wrong, as would the assumption that this is an issue which will swiftly be forgotten and abandoned by those who have made their feelings clear. We feel it would also be wrong to assume that the passage of time will remove opposition to same sex marriage and the advocacy of traditional conservatism. The largest faith groups, the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and Islam ,are strongly opposed to same sex marriage in common with most practiced faiths in Britain. Equally, we are sure you will agree that the Conservative Party needs to do much more to attract ethnic minority voters to the Conservative cause. It is predicted that by 2030, 25% of voters will be of ethnic minority background, most of whom oppose same sex marriage.

The status quo reached in legislative terms over gay rights is now fair and equitable. We are, however, concerned that further attempts to legislate on issues relating to homosexual rights represents a skewed assessment of those who are in most need in our country and that, if passed, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will serve neither to enhance homosexual rights further, nor improve the electoral position of the Conservative Party. We are of the opinion that there are a number of alternative compromise solutions including the extension of Civil Partnerships to all citizens, which would prevent the state from infringing on the institution of marriage or dictating to churches who were not adequately consulted.

Long-held religious and personal freedoms and the right to free speech will be adversely affected by the passing of this Bill. You will be aware of the recent judgment by the European Court of Human Rights that failed to secure ‘religious freedom’ protection to an Islington civil registrar who lost her job after seeking a conscientious exemption from presiding over civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples and a marriage counsellor who was dismissed after expressing a possible conscientious objection to providing same-sex sexual therapy. Because of these past precedents and the power of the ECHR to overrule British courts on matters relating to religious freedom and human rights, we do not feel the proposed “quadruple lock” in the Bill will protect the perceived rights of one minority will not simply be used to overrule the rights of the majority and impinge on values considered sacrosanct to our Party and country.

More time should be afforded to debate an issue of such gravity at Parliamentary Committee level, among the membership of the Conservative Party and with the country at large, and a final decision on the matter should be postponed until after the 2015 general election when the public would have had the chance to vote on a clear manifesto pledge.

As long-standing members of the Conservative Party we want to support the Party to victory, as we have done in every past election, in the belief that Conservative values will lead our nation to ever greater prosperity. Resignations from the Party are beginning to multiply and we fear that, if enacted, this Bill will lead to significant damage to the Conservative Party in the run up to the 2015 election.

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Comments

  1. There still exists that rump of Conservatives, a carry-over from that harpie, Margaret Thatcher, who would have us still criminalised....
    They are the same people who introduced the infamous Clause 28,that anything about homosexuality could not be taught in schools......and those same MP's would support any bigoted law to deny us our right to equality.

    But now they are afraid of being called out; instead of denying us our right to equality openly they cloak their hatred with: "now is not the time; we should be concentrating on the economy not same sex marriage".
    This Conservative Party is the same Party of bigotry that it always was, and that bigotry flourished under their Grande Viziar, Maggie Thatcher.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 3, 2013 11:45:36 AM


  2. So they are going to vote for far-right parties like the UKIP and BNP I guess. That won't change anything for them.

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 3, 2013 11:53:30 AM


  3. In other words please don't end the discrimination, we'll die.

    Posted by: ryansson | Feb 3, 2013 11:54:01 AM


  4. Steve nailed it. This minority within the Conservative Party is becoming marginalized and they will wind up voting for far-right parties. Dead-end losers.

    Posted by: Artie_in_Lauderdale | Feb 3, 2013 1:03:47 PM


  5. I bet this means they know the vote is there to pass it.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 3, 2013 1:03:54 PM


  6. I bet this means they know the vote is there to pass it.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 3, 2013 1:03:54 PM

    The bill will pass EASILY as it has the support of not only most Conservative MPs but also virtually all Liberal Democrats and the opposition Labour Party. There's no question that the UK and France will have gay marriage at some point this year no matter how loud the bigots scream. Germany needs to act next.

    Posted by: Paul | Feb 3, 2013 1:19:09 PM


  7. Oh, the pain, the pain of being in the wrong and knowing it.
    And just exactly to whom shall these conservative voters 'defect' after the Tory Party completes its move into the 21st century?
    The far-far right wingnut parties?
    So not happening.
    Justice won, you hateful christers lost, deal with it.

    Posted by: enough already | Feb 3, 2013 1:26:09 PM


  8. Just watched these Conservatives hand in their letter of protest to 10, Downing Street.

    Ha ha ha. The same angry old white men, without exception !

    It's really becoming a phenomenon.....the sadness and lonliness of watching the world change around them and unable to adapt.
    Isn't that why the Neanderthals died out ?

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 3, 2013 2:16:31 PM


  9. Hahahahhahahhaaaa

    Posted by: Betty Treacle | Feb 3, 2013 2:23:14 PM


  10. The last resort in politics when you are losing: drag your feet. Hope by delay you can change the votes. That is a really good sign for gay marriage in England.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Feb 3, 2013 2:30:28 PM


  11. I hope the PM doesn't give in to the Conservatives. Brit conservatives are as backwards as American conservatives. Since christian evangelicals are not as dominant over there, the conservatives rely on a coalition of Muslims, conservative Anglicans, African anglicans and evangelicals. It's a toxic mix whatever its composition and those groups are vehemently against marriage equality.

    Posted by: MikeInQueens | Feb 3, 2013 2:36:15 PM


  12. There are 25 present and former association chairman complaining. To put this in perspective there are hundreds of conservative associations in the UK. Just looking at the picture of them outside 10 Downing Street it was a sign of everything that is wrong with modern politics. old, white and privileged. most conservatives want this issue voted and gone so they can concentrate on upcoming local elections.

    Posted by: Chippy James | Feb 3, 2013 3:11:24 PM


  13. I can't wait for Matthew to divorce Lady Mary and propose to Thomas the Footman. Lord Grahtham will be apoplectic as usual, not realizing how much the world is changing beneath him. Eventually, he will welcome Thomas as a member of the family, but not before he serves the fish one last time.

    Cousin Violet will have a story about her uncle shagging the footmen, but it was all done discretely back then.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 3, 2013 4:01:40 PM


  14. Does it mean they are going to join the Labour party?

    Posted by: simon | Feb 3, 2013 4:31:46 PM


  15. While there is much to admire about a parliamentary system of government, the lack of a "free" or "conscience' among the backbench is something I cannot fathom.

    When it came time to vote on the president's health care proposal, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi knew that there were some members of the Democratic caucus she should not, could not and would not force to vote to accept Obamacare.

    A parliamentary system gives too much power to the leadership.

    Posted by: ShadowChaser | Feb 3, 2013 7:00:06 PM


  16. @ShadowChaser:
    It is the nature of the UK parliamentary system itself that compels the MP's of the certain party to vote along party line. If I understand correctly, the MP is part of a ticket in an election. The party submits a ticket for a certain district which consists of two or more candidates. Therefore the MP was not elected as an individual but as part of a ticket which is usually headed by the most popular candidate.

    Posted by: simon | Feb 3, 2013 9:12:19 PM


  17. Simon is right. You vote for the party not the individual, though of course people are still influenced by the individual candidates (as potential MPs or as potential PM, as head of the party at general election time).

    However, there is provision for free voting in the the House and, as I understand it, the marriage equality vote in Parliament this week will be a conscience vote and not one mandated along party lines.

    This can be seen as a sop to the group of morally outraged members of the Tory party (an acknowledgment of their "deeply held beliefs" i.e. bigotry) or as a way to avoid their no-votes being described as a rebellion - Cameron knows they would still vote no even if it was mandated by the Tory whips so he has to sidestep the issue.

    Posted by: mynci_bone | Feb 4, 2013 7:57:46 AM


  18. Ah yes, Conservatives, no matter in what part of the world they live in, the continue to insist in living in the past and not moving the human race forward.

    Posted by: mmike1969 | Feb 4, 2013 9:04:09 AM


  19. It's going to pass comfortably, that's why the opposition is ranting in desperation. Already, 130 Conservative MPs are voting yes, maybe a few more, far more than expected. Tomorrow will be an historic day in the EU. France this past saturday and now England including Wales, Scotland expected to pass it later on before the summer, amazing. Two of the five permanent members of the UN approving and passing equal marriage legislation sends a very powerful message to the rest of the world and indeed to the U.S.

    Posted by: alexoloughlin | Feb 4, 2013 11:12:33 AM


  20. Simon's wrong. MP's are elected as individuals to represent the people who live in a particular area (their constituency), about 80,000 people, say. That is who they are answerable to, by law, not their party.

    It's because every constituent can't go to parliament so they send someone to represent them. It's been that way since around 1200 when Simon de Montforte founded the system.

    Posted by: ugj | Feb 5, 2013 7:30:12 AM


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