I do indeed welcome their prayerful support and, indeed, the fact that there has been engagement from those who are on all sides of the argument.
There has been much tolerance and respect in the debate from those on both sides of the House, but I must take this opportunity to say—I have informed Mr Lammy of my intention to do so—that there have been comments that have gone beyond tolerance. There have been intolerant comments that were, frankly, offensive to my constituents and many of his. How dare the right hon. Gentleman equate the position of Christian Members of Parliament such as me and others with the slave traders of Wilberforce’s time? Wilberforce supported traditional marriage and would, I am sure, have been on the side of the dissenters on the Bill.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that by playing the race card and accusing the Bill’s opponents of being in step with the racists and traffickers of years gone by, he is offending not just me—that does not matter—but the majority of the black and minority ethnic communities who are opposed to the Bill? He has offended the black majority Church leaders in his constituency and mine who wrote to The Times recently and said:
“If the Government gets its way, it will not be a victory for equality. Equality requires diversity, and diversity requires distinctiveness, and marriage is and always will be distinctively a union between a man and a woman… The Government is not respecting difference, and it is not promoting a plural society.”