CITY MP Iain Stewart became a gay icon and a worldwide sensation on Twitter after an impassioned speech in Parliament on Tuesday.
The 40-year-old’s defence of the Same Sex Marriage Bill prompted praise from hundreds of listeners – and even offers to find him a boyfriend.
‘You have rocked my political world!’ gushed one tweeter, while another stated: ‘He did MK proud with the best speech of the night.’
Openly gay Iain described to MPs how he ‘came out’ to his parents.
He said: “I began the conversation with the line, “Mum, you know I’m never going to be able to marry.’
“I used that form of words as a way of broaching an awkward conversation and I did not really think much about it at the time, but I often reflect on those words and it makes me very sad that for so long that was a factually correct statement.
“I look at the marriage that my parents have – 45 years and going strong – and I aspire to the same thing.”
But Iain’s fellow Milton Keynes Tory MP Mark Lancaster was one of the 175 MPs to vote against the motion.
Mark agreed with the idea of civil partnerships but feared the Bill might “inadvertently impact on religious freedoms.”
“I respect his views,” Iain told the Citizen. “I am glad I got the chance to speak up for many people who are in a similar situation to me.”
During his speech he said the concept of marriage has evolved over time and it should not be “beyond the wit and wisdom” of this country to respect people holding traditional views while allowing gay people to enjoy the same benefits.
He coyly admitted: “I don’t have someone at the minute but if I do I want to cherish that person, love them, support them.”
The response on Twitter was immediate: ‘I think we should find Iain Stewart a nice boyfriend’, declared one, while another wrote: ‘‘Awww... I’d offer, but he’s a Tory’.
Iain said afterwards: “I had some very kind comments. The support was reassuring.”
But the city’s Anglican Area Dean Tim Norwood was less enthusiastic this week.
He said: “A number of church leaders are very much opposed to the legislation and are keen to promote the traditional view of marriage. There is a real concern that some members may be put in a difficult position if the rules changed.”
The Bill was passed by 400 votes to 175.
> Turn to page 10 to read why Mark Lancaster voted against the Bill.
> Read Tweets from Iain’s new fans on page 12.
> Iain Stewart’s monthly column, page 20.