Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:51 pm on 5th February 2013.

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Photo of Margot James Margot James Conservative, Stourbridge 2:51 pm, 5th February 2013

The hon. Lady makes the point far better than I could have done. The Coalition for Marriage and some Churches have deliberately and consistently misinterpreted the Government’s intentions by pretending that we were forcing Churches to marry same-sex couples. That was never the intention of the Government, and I and other colleagues would never have supported the Bill had it been so.

Belatedly, only this weekend, the Church of England has finally admitted that it is not realistic or likely that Churches will be forced to conduct same-sex weddings. It is so easy to say that now, when practically every person I meet who does not follow political deliberations in great detail has said to me about the Bill, “Oh, it’s about weddings in churches for gay people, isn’t it?” That is the misapprehension that many of my constituents who are opposed to the Bill have laboured under, including members of my own constituency association. I would like to put on record my appreciation of those individuals who have treated me with courtesy and respect such that I can, in conscience, support the Bill this evening without fear or favour. Many of them, however, believe that we are legislating for gay weddings in church. We are not. I am satisfied by the advice of the Attorney-General that that is an infinitesimal possibility. We have heard about how nobody can legislate against a challenge in the courts, but case law in the European Court of Human Rights makes it infinitesimally unlikely that any such challenge would succeed.