Three Gloucestershire MPs voted in support of the historic Bill to legalise gay marriage
CONSERVATIVE MPs in Gloucestershire were split over plans to legalise gay marriage which exposed deep divisions within David Cameron's party.
And the county's only Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood for Cheltenham did not vote according to the official record. The MP later explained he had a long-standing constituency engagement last night he could not cancel and would definitely be supporting the move through its later parliamentary stages.
Conservatives Neil Carmichael for Stroud, Richard Graham for Gloucester and Mark Harper for the Forest of Dean helped the historic proposals clear their first Commons hurdle by a big margin of 400 votes to 175 – a majority of 225.
But early estimates showed 134 Tories voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill's second reading. They included Laurence Robertson for Tewkesbury and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown for the Cotswolds.
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Speaking today following the Bill, Mr Clifton-Brown said he confirmed that only a handful of constituents had written supporting the Bill. He said: "I fully support same sex couples to participate in civil ceremonies, which give them all of the rights and privileges that married couples have.
"However I believe that marriage, whether it be civil or religious, is different because it is between a husband and a wife mainly with the aim of having children.
"Although I fully respect all of those who hold this view very strongly, Parliament has now voted to allow same sex marriage to proceed and it remains to be seen what unexpected consequences that it will cause."
Mr Robertson said afterwards: "I am of the view marriage is between a man and a woman. That's the how it's always been and how it always should be." The majority of Liberal Democrats supported the move, with just four opposed. A handful did not vote including Mr Horwood.
The Lib Dem MP said: "I had a long-standing constituency engagement which I had already postponed once. "I am absolutely in support of the Bill, and in its later stages I will be voting without question." The vote followed more than six hours of impassioned debate on the proposed legislation.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said it would make Britain "a fairer place to live", and insisted religious organisations which did not want to conduct gay marriages had protection. She claimed it was "simply inconceivable" that the European Court of Human Rights would unpick the Government's "quadruple lock" aimed at protecting religions who did not wish to opt-in to the proposals.
But Tory MPs lined up to condemn the measures, who argued they undermined marriage, would alienate voters and threaten the party's election prospects.
Responding to the result on Twitter, the Prime Minister David Cameron wrote: "Strong views exist on both sides but I believe MPs voting for gay people being able to marry too, is a step forward for our country." Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain.
"The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love. "Equal marriage builds on Labour's successes in Government which include the repeal of Section 28, equalising the age of consent, the introduction of civil partnerships and changes to the rules governing adoption."
The vote was: Neil Carmichael, Stroud, Con - Yes Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Cotswold, Con - No Richard Graham, Gloucester, Con - Yes Mark Harper, Forest of Dean, Con - Yes Martin Horwood, Cheltenham, Lib Dem – Did not vote Laurence Robertson, Tewkesbury, Con - No