Campaigners say battle will go on over gay marriage

CHRISTIAN CAMPAIGNERS maintained that the battle against gay marriage will continue as the legislation goes to the House of Lords, while gay Christians hailed Tuesday’s Commons vote in favour.

The Coalition4Marriage said the result sent a warning to the Prime Minister.

Colin Hart, Campaign Director for Coalition for Marriage commented: “The scale of the opposition against the Government’s profoundly undemocratic plans is astonishing, and sends a clear message to the Prime Minister that he faces a lengthy and damaging battle to redefine marriage.”

The Roman Catholic Archbishop Peter Smith said: “Despite claims by supporters of the Bill that the central issue is one of equality, the Bill actually seeks to re-define marriage and will have consequences for society at large.

“It became clear during today’s debate in the House of Commons that the government has not thought through a number of profound problems in the Bill raised by members of Parliament during the debate.

“It will be extremely important that the many concerns we and others have expressed will be fully and carefully considered during the next stages of the Bill’s passage through Parliament.”

But gay Christians welcomed the result. Emma Anthony, a Christian youth worker in a same-sex relationship, joined one of the demonstrations outside Parliament. Afterwards she said: “It’s a very good day for equality. For some people, a life-changing decision has been made.

“I think there is no possible way that Jesus would have voted against this bill. We have to do what Jesus would do if Jesus still had an earthly body.”

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “It is a great disappointment that a Conservative-led Government – historically a party that appreciates the value of tradition – is responsible for such a needless and reckless change.

“Mr Cameron cannot ignore the fact that at least half of his party are not with him on this issue. If he truly wants to represent his party, and the voters who put it into power, he should have the courage to withdraw his support for this Bill.”

Commenting on the debate, Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: “This was a dark day for marriage and the family, which will suffer severe and long-term effects if this legislation is eventually passed. Future generations of children would suffer as a result. So the fight to defend real marriage will and must go on. We call upon the millions of people who value marriage to continue to lobby parliamentarians to resist the bill.”

The newly formed Conservative Grassroots group said the result revealed the divisions within the party.

Ed Costelloe, who recently resigned as chairman of Somerton & Frome Conservative Association over the gay marriage proposals, commented: “The way this Bill has been rushed through reflects badly on the Party’s leadership and has seriously irked Conservative voters on the ground”.

And Geoffrey Vero, chairman of Surrey Heath Conservative Association, argued: “The relationship between Church and State has a long history in Britain. This Bill has the potential to create a rupture in this relationship. MPs on both sides of this issue expressed concern today that the legislation will have significant constitutional ramifications. The ‘quad lock’ is surely only there because legal challenge against religious institutions is a serious possibility”.

However, Quakers in Britain welcomed the vote. Recording Clerk Paul Parker said: “This is the change in the law we have been seeking since 2009, when Quakers decided to recognise same-sex marriages. It is good to see that ministers and MPs have listened and voted for equality.

“We are excited to see this Bill. Three-and-a-half years ago Quakers decided that same-sex couples should be able to marry in a Quaker meeting. Since then we have been waiting for the law to catch up. Today that has come a step closer.”