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Devon and Cornwall Tories still divided in vote on gay marriage reform

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

Comments (24)

Just two of eleven Conservative MPs in Devon and Cornwall last night fully backed gay marriage proposals on the eve of the first parliamentary vote on the reforms.

David Cameron has personally championed allowing same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, where a religious institution has formally consented.

But the Prime Minister will face resistance from MPs claiming the proposals de-value the institution of marriage during a free vote at the second reading of the Bill today. A free vote, which applies when MPs are asked to vote on an issue of conscience, allows MPs to break free of the party line.

Devon and Cornwall MPs that last night indicated they would vote against the Bill were Anne Marie Morris (Con, Newton Abbot), Neil Parish (Con, Tiverton and Honiton) and Mel Stride (Con, Central Devon).

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Mr Parish said: "These things are best left to evolve. This should be for the church and Christians to decide not for Parliament to legislate."

Gary Streeter, Tory MP for South West Devon, is understood to be against the Bill, as it was not in the party manifesto, but he is chairing it through committee stages and so cannot give a public view or vote on it at any stage.

Other Conservatives signalled they were undecided. Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Oliver Colvile, said he wanted to inform constituents first.

Geoffrey Cox, Conservative MP for West Devon and Torridge, said he was "pretty confident" that he knew which way he was going to vote but "will keep my mind open at the debate".

Sarah Newton, Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth, is in favour of the reforms but has indicated she will vote with the majority of her constituents by the time of the final Commons vote.

South East Cornwall Tory MP Sheryll Murray is taking soundings from constituents before the third and last reading of the Bill.

George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, said he is likely to abstain, arguing civil partnerships are "working well".

Hugo Swire, MP for East Devon and Foreign Office Minister, and Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston were the only Conservatives in the region to firmly back the plans.

Dr Wollaston said her postbag indicated opposition to the reform was based on "prejudice that needs to be confronted": "I think there will be a lot of MPs who will be proved to be on the wrong side of the argument."

Liberal Democrat MPs Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay), Nick Harvey (North Devon), Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall) and Adrian Sanders (Torbay) will all back the Bill, they said last night.

Andrew George (Lib Dem, St Ives) said he will decide after today's debate – though is "presently minded to vote for the Bill".

Labour MPs Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) and Alison Seabeck (Plymouth Moor View) also support the legislation.

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  • nicold  |  February 06 2013, 11:12AM

    This legislation is so important in the quest of homosexuals to receive equality. We will see ahead, generations coming through who will be born into a country that accepts homosexuals naturally as equal and a part of society as a right. The more homosexuals are seen to be accepted by the majority as part of society, hopefully there will be less homophobia and make happier lives for those people who because of no fault of their own, have been victimised and ridiculed for 100's of years.

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  • Big_Ger  |  February 05 2013, 10:35PM

    As a Tory I welcome the debate in my party. I'd rather we had that than the blind obedience to party diktat of Labour, and the wooly muddleheadedness of the Libs. Personally I have no problem with gays or lesbians marrying, I don't see how or why it should affect me in any way if they do.

  • realityzone  |  February 05 2013, 9:36PM

    I fully support gay unions in full legal partnerships but the use of the word "Marriage" should be unique to the union of a man and a woman. Leave aside the religious viewpoint, Like it or not a man and a woman together are not the same thing as a man and a man, or a woman and a woman and no one explains how the law relating consummation which makes a marriage legal can have relevance in a gay union. By tinkering with semantics to the point of insisting that the same word applies in either case is causing enormous offense and confusion for no worth while gain. David Cameron's judgement is on the line here, he is wrecking his party over the dubious re defining of one word.

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  • Charlespk  |  February 05 2013, 8:35PM

    There are interesting times ahead I feel. We know UKIP can take the vote in the European elections, but there is a new dynamic now that will send shock waves across all parties. . . If UKIP now get some more 'big hitters' defecting they may become unstoppable. If the anti-Tory Labour vote that the Lib-Dems usually grab diverts to them (we already know some goes or went to the BNP) I now see Nigel Farage as a major coalition partner if not PM.

    |   4
  • youngcornwall  |  February 05 2013, 8:12PM

    by Charlespk "They think it's all over!!!" I think you could be very well right, "all over" in many respects.

  • Charlespk  |  February 05 2013, 7:23PM

    They think it's all over!!!

    |   3
  • mikelister66  |  February 05 2013, 7:20PM

    The second reading is passed by 400 votes to 175.

    |   1
  • unhappysteveo  |  February 05 2013, 6:08PM

    Why is this big news? the politicians are making a big hoohar out of something 99% of use couldn't give a hoot about.

    |   9
  • Charlespk  |  February 05 2013, 6:01PM

    It's funny how voters of all parties, whilst in full agreement on the justice of civil partnerships, are divided on the issue of gay 'marriage'. . But as usual; just as with Europe and 'UKIP' the Left are always in denial about it. It would make far more sense if they just found a new name for their 'union', particularly as marriage is seen as less important even for 'modern' heterosexual younger people now. Leave marriage for those who still believe in God.

    |   3
  • Doitdreckley  |  February 05 2013, 5:42PM

    Funny how the Tories accused Labour of wasting time over the hunting abolition issue but just look at how this Government has drawn out the debate over gay marriage. Sarah Newton MP (for example) has wrung her hands with public debates on the issue yet issues like benefit cuts are resolutely passed ignoring public opinion.

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      Should equal marriage rights be extended to homosexual couples?