Ahead of tonight’s vote on same-sex marriage in Parliament, Andrew Turner MP has released a statement to the press highlighting his position on the subject.
Mr Turner has said:
I will vote against the introduction of gay marriage tonight as I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. I know some people will welcome my stance whilst others will be disappointed. Many Islanders who feel strongly about this on both sides have contacted me; they are overwhelmingly against the idea of gay marriage. This vote is on a matter of conscience – but the following issues are among those of concern to me.
Any such fundamental change should have the explicit consent of the British people. No parties’ election manifesto, nor the coalition agreement said this would be introduced. The Government carried out a public consultation with over 228,000 responses, and claimed a ‘narrow’ margin of support; however many of those responses were anonymous and they came from across the world. A petition against gay marriage signed by over 500,000 people, all with names and addresses was ignored. There is absolutely no mandate to introduce this legislation and I believe Parliament should be concentrating on more pressing issues.
I also believe that churches may be forced to undertake gay marriage ceremonies through challenges on Human Rights grounds – soothing words from Ministers do not give legal protections. For instance our law is quite clear that prisoners are not entitled to vote and that is the settled view of Parliament – however the UK has an obligation to enforce judgements of the European Court of Human Rights and they say our position must change. That is currently unresolved.
It has been argued that gay marriage is about equality – yet it is not proposed to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. There would also remain significant differences in ‘marriage’ between homosexual and heterosexual couples. For example existing legal definitions of consummation and adultery would not apply to homosexual couples – simply bringing in a new law cannot make something that is different the same and a great deal of existing legislation would need to be amended, that could be a legal minefield.
If this Bill is passed by the Commons tonight the legislation will still have to pass through the House of Lords. In the meantime, in case the legislation is passed, I am working with like-minded colleagues to protect the rights of those who have religious or principled convictions against gay marriage; for instance I am co-sponsoring a Bill which would amend the Equalities Act to give protection to those who work in the public services such as teachers and registrars.