I have been contacted by many constituents about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill – both by those for and those against the proposal to introduce same-sex marriage.
Marriage is an important statement of love and long term commitment, and has long been the main way that the state recognises and shows support for loving relationships. I believe that couples who love each other and want to make that long-term commitment to each other should be able to marry, regardless of their gender or their sexuality. Same sex couples should have the same recognition from the state as everyone else.
I appreciate that some people and religious groups take a different view and I agree that no Church or religious organisation should be required to hold same-sex marriages if they do not wish to do so. Freedom of religion is extremely important and all the main political parties are united in the belief that faith groups should be protected.
Freedom of religion is therefore rightly written onto the face of the legislation, meaning that no church or faith group will be obliged to hold same sex marriage ceremonies if they do not wish to.
However, freedom of religion also means it is important that those Churches and religious organisations that want to celebrate same-sex marriage are able to opt-in to doing so.
I recognise that not all of my constituents will share my views – and, on this issue, we may have to agree to disagree.
However, for the reasons above, I will be voting in favour of the Bill’s Second Reading in the House of Commons this evening.