MP Iain ‘trends’ as Same Sex Bill is passed

MP Iain Stewart
MP Iain Stewart

MP Iain Stewart gave a passionate speech in Parliament yesterday as the Bill allowing same sex couples to marry was voted through by a majority.

The vote saw 400 MPs vote for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill and just 175 against.

In his speech, Mr Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South, said: “I often recall the day a few years ago when I finally plucked up the courage to tell my parents that I was gay.

“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.

“I do not have someone at the minute, but if I do, I want to cherish that person, love them, support them. It is not just about a ceremony; it is about being with them for the rest of a life, in good times and bad, richer or poorer, sickness and health.

“That can apply as much to me as to a straight couple. I do not understand why some people feel threatened that allowing me to have that in any way diminishes what a heterosexual couple has. I want the same things.”

Mr Stewart even managed to spend a short time trending on social networking site, Twitter, with proposals of marriage coming his way.

To see his speech in its entirety visit the Hansard website.
Of those who voted against 136 were Tories and, notably, one was MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster.

Whereas he did not disagree with the idea of civil partnerships he siad he feared the Bill might inadvertantly impact on religious freedoms.

He said: “On the first issue when it comes to recognition of couples committing to each other in the eyes of the State, I am firm believer that there should be equality across the board which is why I am a supporter of civil partnerships. There are aspects of the Bill which strengthens civil partnerships which I actively support, though personally for a Bill that aims to deliver equality, it is a disappointment that the Bill does not propose to allow heterosexual couples to form a civil partnership.

“Equally I regret that the strengthening of civil partnerships have been included with other elements of the Bill which I feel fail to adequately protect religious freedoms.

“On the Second issue, I do not believe that it is right for the State to impose its will on religious bodies as to who they should ‘join in union’. There are already restrictions on this, for example as a divorced man I am not automatically allowed to get married in a church or indeed in a parish that I am not resident in, but nor am I automatically excluded, it is for the religious body to decide.

“When the Bill was published there was specific protection for the established Church but not for other faiths, once again for a Bill that aimed to deliver equality, it appears that we are not treating all faiths the same or providing them the same level of protection.

“I do appreciate that there are complications involved over the definition of ‘marriage’ and the role of the established church in effectively being licensed by the State to carry out marriage in the UK.

“This was highlighted by responses to the recent Government consultation. My initial thoughts on the Bill were that it was a mess and rather than produce a level playing field simply added to the complexity of the issue in the UK and will not stand the test of time.

“For this reason I was unable to support the Bill at second reading.”

A full statement is available on Mr Lancaster’s website.