The bill will be put before the House of Commons on February 5th and although it is expected to pass with the support of the majority of MPs a large number of Tory MPs are expected to vote against it. The bill will be a free vote meaning MPs will be able to vote on their own beliefs rather than by party policy.
Top Tory MPs expected to vote against the bill are Dr. Liam Fox and Philip Hammond. However, Pink News reports that Chris Grayling and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi are both to vote in favour of same-sex marriage despite having a rather colourful history when it comes to gay rights issues.
Mr Grayling became tangled up in the storm surrounding whether owners of Bed and Breakfasts/Hotels should have the right to deny double-rooms to gay couples. Mr Grayling, at the time (in 2010), suggested that owners of such establishments should have the right to discriminate against same-sex couples. Mr Grayling’s comments caused something of an outcry at the time.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was, until last year, co-chairmen of the Conservative Party but lost her position in David Cameron’s September cabinet reshuffle. The Conservative is now Minister for Faith and Communities, as well as the minister of state at the Foreign Office. When Culture Secretary Maria Miller first announced plans to allow gay and lesbian couples the right to marry Baroness Warsi wrote to her coalition colleague raising concerns. Warsi wanted re-assurance that Churches and other religious establishments would have legal protection if they did not wish to conduct same-sex ceremonies. The government has now included such protections in its proposed (same-sex) marriage bill.
In 2005 during an election campaign Warsi’s leaflets contained comments on homosexuality which argued that Labour was wrong to scrap Section 28 – the hated law, introduced by the Tories in the 1980s – because the law was “introduced by the Conservatives to stop schools promoting alternative sexual lifestyles such as homosexuality to children as young as seven years old.”
The campaign leaflets also argued lowering the age of consent, for gay and lesbians, from 18 to 16 meant school-children could “be propositioned for homosexual relationships.” Baroness Warsi later admitted she regretted the election material and the language used.
The same-sex marriage bill has the support of David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband and is probably one of the few areas that all three leaders have common ground.
[Written by Martha Kirkpatrick, source Pink News]