4:30pm Wednesday 6th February 2013
By Emma Innes
Harrow East MP Bob Blackman claimed he received 1,000 letters of support for his opposition to gay marriage - and only five asking for change.
Bob Blackman MP says that he voted against the Same Sex Marriage Bill because he believes Civil Partnerships offer the right balance between equality and the protection of religious freedoms.
He is worried that the Bill does not have sufficient protections for religious organisations who, he fears, could find themselves in the courts for their stance on the issue.
Mr Blackman gave a speech in the House of Commons in which he stated that he believed he was expressing the views of his constituents by voting against the Bill.
He said: “I believe that marriage is between a man and I woman. I stand by that commitment.
“For saying that in public, I have been subjected to vilification, abuse, and threats to my physical well-being and threats to my office.”
He added: “I have received five letters of support for a change to the sexual arrangements in marriage and 1,000 supporting my stance.
“The vast majority of my constituents share my view that there is no need for such a change.”
However, the MP for Harrow West voted in favour of the Same Sex Marriage Bill.
Gareth Thomas says that he believes same sex couples should have the same recognition from the state as everyone else.
He said: “I appreciate that the government's proposals to enable same sex couples to get married has provoked strong opinions on both sides.
“I believe that same sex couples should have the chance to marry and have their relationship recognised as being of equal worth to other loving couples. I therefore voted in favour of sex-sex marriage when it was debated in parliament yesterday.
“I appreciate that some people and religious groups are opposed to this 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 religious expression is extremely important and it is right that the Bill explicitly rules out any church or individual minister being required to perform same sex marriages.
“Religious marriages are a matter for each church, religious organisation or denomination, not for the government or parliament.
“However same sex couples should be able to get the same recognition from the state as everyone else.
“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.”
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