Furore as gay marriage debate stifled at Cotswold District Council meeting
UPROAR broke out in Cotswold District Council's chamber as ruling Conservatives refused to debate the issue of same-sex marriage.
Heckling and jeering erupted from the public as council leader Lynden Stowe squashed discussion - sparking accusations he had 'whipped' his party over a matter which should be up to individuals' "conscience".
Councillor Joe Harris (Lib-Dem, Cirencester-Park), proposed a motion to 'support the removal of the ban on same-sex couples being able to have a marriage through a civil ceremony'.
He also called on the authority to 'write to Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP asking him to support the Government's proposals for equal marriage'.
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But a stoney-faced councillor Stowe said: "We will be offering no view on the subject."
This prompted calls of "that's disgusting" and "disgraceful" from the public and irate Cirencester resident Ian Hamilton - who caused the meeting to be temporarily adjourned.
Councillor Stowe continued: "The subject matter clearly falls outside this council's remit.
"This is a council where we have clear mandates to deliver services to the people of the Cotswolds - we're not charged with determining the moral codes of this nation."
Pointing at the Conservatives, councillor Harris said: "You've crushed my faith in humanity. It's an issue of basic human birthrights, morality and fairness."
Struggling with his emotions, Lib-Dem leader Paul Hodgkinson spoke personally and said: "Who are you councillor Stowe to say we will not be in engaging in this?
"I will celebrate this September, with my partner, 25 years together. We became civil partners in 2006.
"It's about me and everyone like me and millions in this country having the same rights as everyone else.
"This is a moment for this council to live and breathe its stated equality policy."