Despite a growing campaign to get back to Tory grass roots and derail Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to legalise gay marriage, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has given a firm promise that the Government will still bring in the law. The Deputy Prime Minister said it is a matter of “how, not whether” same-sex marriage is legalized, reported the Independent.
A dispute between Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs has broken out after both parties suffered heavy losses in this month’s council elections. Tory backbenchers have urged ministers to shelve gay marriage legislation and demanded a return to Tory grass roots values with the Government instead focusing on bread-and-butter issues, such as the economy, which they claim matter more to voters.
Yesterday Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, became the first Cabinet member to declare that he will oppose the move if it is put to a free vote in the Commons.
In a letter to a constituent, Mr Paterson, a Conservative, said: “Having considered this matter carefully, I am afraid I have come to the decision not to support gay marriage.”
Whereas Mr Clegg has signed a petition organised by the rival Coalition for Equal Marriage, which is campainging for change. He told the group: “The Coalition Government, the Liberal Democrats and I remain wholeheartedly committed to lifting the ban on equal civil marriage. We are currently consulting on how, not whether, to introduce proposals for equal marriage and I want to encourage everyone to make sure that their voices are heard during this time. Many other countries have taken this progressive step and I think it’s about time Britain joined them.”
At a time when many celebrites and MPs are joining the fight to equal marriage rights for gay couple, Conor Marron, co-founder of the Coalition for Equal Marriage said: “We’re very happy to have Nick [Clegg] standing with us on this issue, along with the majority of MPs who have voiced their position on the subject. We welcome Nick’s reassertion that this consultation is on how to introduce civil marriage equality, not if,” reported the Independent.