Coffee House

118 Tory MPs publicly reject gay marriage plans

24 November 2012

David Cameron is planning to fast-track legislation for gay civil marriage through parliament, but today’s Daily Mail underlines that his own MPs are dragging their feet over the legislation. The paper reports that at least 118 Tory MPs have expressed their opposition to the plans in letters to constituents or interviews with journalists, and they’re not just the usual suspects that Nick Clegg might accidentally label ‘bigots’. They include openly gay Conor Burns, who told his local newspaper that ‘I marvel at why we’re bringing this forward. There is no clamour for this at all within the gay community’. Wirral West MP and minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, holds similar views, telling a constituent in a letter that she’s ‘concerned that re-defining marriage is unnecessary given the established legal rights’.

There are other Conservative MPs who are completely torn about the issue. I know of one who has asked his staff – one an evangelical Christian opposed to gay marriage and the other an agnostic in favour – to write briefings from their own perspectives to help him make up his mind.


Liam Fox hit the nail on the head at the Conservative party conference when he was pressed at a fringe event by a group of vehement campaigners from the Church Society to persuade the PM to drop any reference to gay marriage in his conference speech. Those asking the questions appeared to think Fox was as opposed to the legislation as they, but when it came to his answers, he shrugged as he said he didn’t actually hold a strong view either way, but that he wished there was a more respectful debate on the issue from both sides.

This legislation was borne out of the PM’s desire to detoxify his party rather than because of a deluge of demands from the gay community: Stonewall itself suffered from bitter internal splits over whether to campaign for gay marriage. But inevitably the push to remove the ban on same-sex marriages has polarised the issue and led to a war of words between those who hold a firm view, with a large group of ambivalents caught in the crossfire.

The problem for the Tories is that this proposed legislation has brought those firmly opposed to gay marriage such as Peter Bone – who said he wanted to ‘throw up’ when listening to Cameron’s speech endorsing the change – to the fore, which doesn’t exactly help the grand aim of detoxifying the party.

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  • jvcguest

    I recently invoked the ghosts of Bentham and JS Mill to help me find a proper liberal-conservative policy on same-sex marriage – a subject which simply wasn’t part of the fashion during my 20 years in an Australian Parliament taking a hand in decriminalising homosexual activity and banning discrimination (of the old-fashioned but little-reasoned kind). Australia’s leading liberal-conservative journal Quadrant published my fully considered case but I include a shorter version here because it didn’t get into the Spectator’s Letters column but I think it has the answer for the rational politician in a country without much religion.

    This is it:

    The average Anglosphere voter, a sensible utilitarian, must
    be puzzled by the cry in recent years to promote a change in language use by

    Why would one spend legislative time on attempting to make
    people think of their gay friends liaisons as “marriage”, contrary to
    immemorial usage?

    Why would one spend specialist judicial time and taxpayer’s
    money on sorting out property disputes between people who make an unenforceable
    agreement to live together when contract law and trust could furnish all the
    security they need?

    One would not. Not if one considered why marriage between
    man and woman required any special legislation and courts. It was to
    protect women for whom marriage had been made, by most religions, a
    relationship of subjugation and potential poverty. It was to protect
    children from the breakdown of marital relations. Since the “gay
    marriage” case has nothing to do with protecting children who may have gay
    parents the positive side of the utilitarian’s case against change should

    Frivolous change in linguistic fashion is not a worthy
    object of MPs time or attention. But there is some utility to be found in
    encouraging the remaining traditionalists. Their belief in the ancient meaning
    and obligations of marriage may support them in the difficult task
    of providing a stable and moral upbringing to our future generations.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    Dave seems to have the absurd notion that if he railroads this legislation through Parliament Guardian readers will rise a one and shout “Vote Conservative”.

  • Noa

    Same sex marriage is only one step on the long march.

    Once it is enacted further ‘freedoms’ will no doubt be demanded.

    One sees no logical impediment to why, say, hugging a husky, should not lead a state state sanctioned and approved formal relationship.

  • Noa

    All is not well with the Conservative Party Is it winter flu?

    First David Cameron was ‘sick to his stomach’ about prisoner votes

    Our very own Nadine feels sick after nibbling a testicle, presumaby because it wasn’t one of Dave’s.

    Now the vomiting epidemic has spread even to the stalwart Peter Bone.

    It’s high time that the cause of this sickness was identified and removed.

  • paulus

    David DP@ your arguments are sophistry, finding qualifications in a fundamental truth. that thruth is marriage is a sanctified state of union between one man and one woman, given legal credence throughout history to any issue born of that union.

    Of course, many people people have entered into that state of union for a myriad of reasons, but the absolute necessity has been one man and one woman.

    Once this is changed and that absolute necessity of a woman or a man of the opposite sex is gone, then this leaves open the possibilty of other qualification to a state of marriage, open to what constitutes a marriage.

    To say there is no casual link to gay marriage and polygamy is correct, as gay marriage is neither rational not logical and no link in logic or reason can be established for its introduction, its a tautalogical nonsense.

    You cite a call to emotion as reason being enough to get married, brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, can be inc in any call to emotion.

    Succesful societies must reproduce in a legal, stable and social way or they will quickly disappear. Logic and reason guided those societies.

    • DavidDP

      Actually, they are quite straightforward points.

      “but the absolute necessity has been one man and one woman.

      Well, no. There have been other models of marriage throughout history. Indeed, in other countries right now gay marriage is in existence, the absolute necessity that you call it is only artificially in place through State action preventing any other model, such a homosexual marriage.

      “gay marriage is neither rational not logical and no link in logic or reason can be established for its introduction”

      On the contrary, I married my wife to demonstrate my devotion and love for her in exclusion to all others in the yes of our families, friends and the State. It’s entirely logical and rational that a gay couple may wish to make the same statement.

      Alternatively, there are specific legal privileges that come with marriage; it is similarly entirely rational for gay people otherwise in the same position as a straight couple to want to avail themselves of those privileges.

      You’ve finally again specifically linked marriage with reproduction at the end of your argument, yet at the start acknowledge that there is a myriad of reasons why people can get married. The worry that you have that further qualification to the state of marriage is already therefore an issue by your own arguments. However,msociety sems to have survivethere is a further

  • Andy Laing

    Why won’t somebody deal with the press brou-hah-hah in a rational fashion? Civil Partnership is already a recognised state; legally there should be no distinction between “hetero & homo sexuals” in this respect. So, if they wish for reasons of their own to be known as “Mr & Mr”, Ms & Ms or Miss & Miss, who the hell really cares? BUT, if you’re a heterosexual married couple, and society truly ascribes an optimal virtue to to procreation in heterosexuaal “married” partnerships (the only physically feasible option), then you should be festooned by society with generous benefits. After all, your the new latest UK minority!

  • paulus

    Davisd DP@ no once you redefine the meaning of marriage to include a union where procreation cannot and can never be the fruit of the union, then all other and some would say more compelling reasons to widen the definition of marriage will be the logical step in this development.

    Moreover, a child born of a marriage is a legitimate child, where the father has made a commitment to the mother of that child, this is legally enforceable and sacrosanct. When marriage does not hold the same meaning carrying the same legal rights any child of a casual aquaintenance will have a claim on any inheritance. It is cruel i know but we dont live in a utopia.

    • DavidDP

      There are plenty of marriages where there can be no issue. Are you saying all marriages where people are infertile, or too old to have children, or simply don’t want children should be declared invalid? And as said, polygamy has occurred elsewhere without gay marriage, so there is no causal link between the two.

      As to your second point, gay people getting married will change none of the legal issues surrounding inheritance and the legal rights of a child. We already live in a world where people who do not marry have children.

  • paulus

    Tyrone @ that is a disingenious argument, the state is preventing some churches from conducting Gay marriage. There is no major religion or church on the earth that recognises a marital union between men.

    You must think we are fools to cite that.

    David Cameron need to see if he has fluid on the brain, its the only explaination to think the conservative party would ever countenance the destruction of the meaning of marriage. The consequence of such would basterdise their own children.

    If gays are allowed to marry each other, whats to prevent polygamy being accepted into the law of the land, it has a religious tradition, it has legal acceptance in many countries, and a biological imperative. Be in no doubt if the marriage laws are changed it will be a free for all in allowing every definition. Unintended consequence by the hopeless and the liberal

    • DavidDP

      The chances of polygamy becoming legal would be exactly the same as they are now. Homosexual monogamous marriage has nothing to do with polygamy, which has occurred elsewhere without gay marriage being allowed, which suggests no causal link.

    • DavidDP

      Also, how would it destroy the meaning of marriage and how would it bastardise children?

  • D B

    Are we, as a country, ready for gay marriage? According to Holy Writ, the Cities of the Plain were – and look what happened to them.

  • Mirtha Tidville

    Do not be fooled into thinking this is only a civil procedure and never a Church one. This is merely the thin edge of the wedge that the fool `Dave` is handing to the radicals..Once allowed it will be only a matter of time before views no longer matter and Churches will be forced by law. Still only a matter of time before the useless Tories disintegrate unless they find some balls and ditch Dave!!

  • Magnolia

    The only aspect of the New Labour government that I rather liked was the Cool Britannia bit. Mrs Thatcher was very patriotic but the last Conservative Party had lost some of that by the end and Labour re-invented it and opened it up to include all of us.
    We saw that carry on at the London olympics and it was wonderful.
    The problem for me with gay marriage is that it tramples on traditional marriage and the Church of England which are an integral part of what made this country in historical terms and so for me our anglican church and traditional marriage are also very patriotic symbols, the church with its roots and its intimate relationship bound to the monarch and our constitution, and marriage with its roots embedded in our society, community and families.
    The real argument is about whether the Church or so-called gay rights has primacy.
    The argument is linked to that within the Church over so-called equal rights for women which is also hovering around the edges of this debate like its smaller brother.
    In this way I believe that gay marriage will take away an aspect of my patriotism, which I’m fond of.
    It will stop me loving my country as much as I do now because the Church and a tradition that I love will be weakened by it. In a weird way, it has little to do with homosexuals. I suppose I can’t understand why civil partnerships aren’t enough and why they aren’t just the right amount of Cool Britannia. Why does tradition have to be vanquished rather than subsumed?

    • Colonel Mustard

      “Why does tradition have to be vanquished rather than subsumed?”

      Because the traditional constitutional elements are a block to the single party state being “re-constructed” here. This is not about old, archaic institutions being modernised but about one establishment being replaced by another. And the replacement establishment has already shown that it will be far more demanding of your conformity and obedience than the old one. Revolution is afoot and has been for quite some time but it a quiet, some might say sneaky, revolution and many of its cheerleaders are not at all what they purport to be.

    • DavidDP

      “The problem for me with gay marriage is that it tramples on traditional marriage”


  • tom jones

    There’s too much sleeping around going on today in Britain and STIs are on the rise Gay men especially are viewed as more promiscuous so gay marriage will help change gay culture over time. Gay rights have let gay people visit mainstream society but gay marriage will make commitment a more achieveable goal. As party of familie and commitment, I’m sad to see some showing their true homophobic feelings. “I’m not racist, but…..” who are you people kidding?

  • HooksLaw

    If there is no demand there will not be many gay marriages.

  • TomTom

    Cameron is a Toxic Tory and should watch MacShane’s seat in Rotherham to see how UKIP perform……

  • In2minds

    “This legislation was borne out of the PM’s desire to detoxify his party” This is the same man who wanted Leveson, how many mistakes can a man make?

    • TomTom

      Re-Toxify… learn to spell it properly !

    • HooksLaw

      There was a demand – a public and parliamentary demand for Levenson. why are you so keen to defend a shambolic press?

  • Colonel Mustard

    Why has Cameron got such a bee in his bonnet about this when there are so many more important things to worry about? The man is very strange.

    Apparently the Social Services staff of Rotherham council think it is acceptable to remove foster children from a couple into care because that couple belong to a legitimate political party. When is such persecution going to stop Mr Cameron? You promised to sweep all this away and I think it a sad indictment of you and your government that such an outrageous act of political bigotry can be executed by local government staff. Maybe you could fast track legislation that makes it an offence to discriminate against someone because of their political beliefs when those are within membership of a legitimate political party? Or is the one party state going to continue to be enforced across the public society whilst you and your utterly useless colleagues pretend at democracy?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Correction and apology – “public society” should read “public sector”.

    • Swiss Bob

      Joyce Thacker is Rotherham’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services.

      She is the loony left bigot responsible for this and should be fired.

      The informer should also be investigated to determine whether any laws were broken accessing or disseminating this information to the council.

      • ButcombeMan

        She may not be “looney left” she does appear to be heavily into “Common Purpose”; Odd that Common Purpose seems to produce this sort of silly “group think” and absence of plain common sense. Wherever Common Purpose gets to exert a tight grip, nothing seems to work properly. Precisely the opposite of what they say they intend. Maybe there is not much between “looney left” and Common Purpose’? Common Purpose “graduates” spout this multicultural over politically correct garbage, almost as if they have been brainwashed. It is an astonishing phenomenon.

        Thacker appears on the last page

        • HooksLaw

          Not satisfied with 57 varieties of conspiracy you need to invent another.

          • ButcombeMan

            Au contraire.
            I did not invent it, there are far more absurd references to it if you care to look. I am just an observer.
            I soon as I heard the story about Rotherham, I concluded Common Purpose group think, was in the mix somewhere and so it proved.
            Are YOU a Common Purpose “graduate’?
            Perhaps we should be told.

          • Daniel Maris

            Common Purpose has all the hallmarks of a conspiracy. What do you think its “purpose” is? I’d say its purpose is to strangle populist politics and ensure there is no way the public can express themselves on any subject whatsoever without prior permission of this self-selecting elite.

            • Swiss Bob

              Daniel, I may have misjudged you :-)

        • Colonel Mustard

          Note especially the qualification to be part of this “community” programme on pages 65/66. Ordinary people seem curiously omitted. I find the whole thing sinister and redolent of both Soviet-style block management and national socialism. More about directing and influencing communities than representing them or letting them develop themselves. Who are these unelected people to decide how communities should be managed?

          Of course Obama came from this background too.

      • alexsandr

        she was on BBC Breakfast today. Came over as a right box ticking useless nobody.

        Pity farage kept going off topic on Sky News a few minutes earlier ranting about immigration. should have put the boot in better at social services. and the council

      • Keith

        Surely you mean “she should be suspended on full pay with no loss of pension rights pending the outcome of an investigation that will take so long to complete that by the time any report comes out of it the press will have lost interest?”

    • TomTom

      yes but they are okay with Pashtuns from the area raping White girls……..that is why Apartheid is necessary in Rotherham Social Services Weltanschauung

    • HooksLaw

      Yes – a pretty pathetic lefty bit of bigotry. How can these people be racist if they have adopted a mix race child? How can people be accused of racism without evidence? Rotherham labour should end up in court.

      The prejudice in fact lies with Rotherham Labour who do not like the idea of white people adopting coloured children.

      • Steerage

        And it was only a temporary fostering according to her on the radio this morning but they spent hours of staff time arguing over the matter and getting legal advice. The fact that UKIP opposed multi-culturalism was the deciding factor.

    • David Lindsay

      There is more to this story, and not only the
      fact that many a council, perhaps all of them these days, is being run by
      Officers instead of by Councillors, a baleful state of affairs which goes back
      to the 1980s, but about which nothing was done while, for example, Hilary
      Armstrong was Local Government Minister and telling Councillor-laden meetings, which I attended,
      how much she believed in the municipal process. UKIP could not
      have bought publicity like this, right where and when it was fighting a
      parliamentary by-election. Surely no one is quite that hopeless a coincidence

      UKIP is making a play for the white vote while
      having, it feels, conceded the Asian vote to Respect following the deeply
      flawed Labour selection process. But Respect won every ward at Bradford West,
      including the all-white ones. Bradford West, by the way, was no “Labour
      heartland”, having been a Conservative target seat in 2010. Respect’s
      candidate at Rotherham, like its candidate at Bradford West, is white. Clearly
      Respect-supporting, but conveniently unattributable, leaflets are accusing
      Labour of returning to the politics of the National Front in the 1970s. A bit
      strong, but I do not know who Labour functionaries expect to be fooled by the
      maiden aunt act. Wasting police time, more like it.

      Respect’s candidate at Croydon North is neither
      Asian nor Muslim. He is Lee Jasper, veteran ruler of Operation Black Vote. He
      needs to be asked exactly how representative either he or it is of family-centred
      churchgoers who cherish the monarchy’s role in the Commonwealth, who value
      traditional methods and structures of education (even to the extent of sending
      children to live with relatives in Africa or the Caribbean in order to benefit
      from them), and who believe most strongly that immigrants to this country ought
      to use correct spoken and written English. But, and I only ask, is the Labour
      candidate in any position to pose this question? If not, then why is that
      person the Labour candidate?

      If the recent proposal to use the black churches
      to get out the black vote really comes to anything, and it has not done so in
      the past, then it will make a very significant difference indeed. If your main
      concern is to organise against Islamisation, then you could want no voters more
      than Christians from West Africa and the belt across the centre of that
      continent. Only three other groups are as reliable in this cause. One is the
      Greeks in general and the Greek Cypriots in particular, of which latter one in
      six in the world already lives in the United Kingdom. Another is the Slavs,
      among whom the Poles predominate in this country. And the third is the ancient
      indigenous Christians of the Middle East, with their brethren in the Indian

      London has a higher level both of professing
      Christians and of regular churchgoers than the country as a whole, which in the
      former case is saying quite something when you consider that the national
      figure is 72 per cent. The huge London statistics are because of black Londoners.
      Up to now, though, they have been unregistered, or abstaining, or
      disorganised. If they were not so by the time of the next Mayoral Election
      in 2016, then the question would be which leading pastor would carry the torch
      for all three of social justice, peace, and traditional family values against
      the candidate of rapacious global capital, the sexually louche and pro-drugs
      incumbent who believes that Christianity overthrew a superior civilisation.
      Whichever leading pastor had not been made a Labour MP the year before.

      Assuming, of course, that any leading pastor had
      not been made a Labour MP the year before. A lot of them, and I do mean a lot
      of them, have very close ties, and I do mean very close ties, to Maurice
      Glasman and Blue Labour. There is ample time for them to sign up their entire
      congregations to the locally dominant Constituency Labour Parties. As the
      Catholic Church more or less used to do. And as the Methodist chapels actually
      started the Labour Party by doing. Community organising, indeed.

      And not only in London. Not only in London at

      Bringing us back to the topic of the original post here.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Thank you for this insight. I met and shared a dinner table with Lee Jasper when he was an empowered crony of Livingstone. Suffice it to say that I was disconcerted by his discourse and not for the reasons that might so easily be imagined by the more feverish here.

  • Swiss Bob

    It’s strange that I haven’t seen anything in the UK press about the mass demonstrations in France against Gay Marriage. Normally the French are held up as examples for the UK to follow.

    One thing I don’t understand about the whole business is why don’t gays form their own church and marry themselves rather than trying to get other churches to conform to their particular view?

    What business is it of the Government to interfere in religious matters? Have we given up on “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”.

    • TomTom

      France has demonstrations, Merkel’s party is split…….funny how the issue comes to a head in 3 EU countries simultaneously………might suspect an EU Policy being imposed on the Serfs

      • Swiss Bob

        A ‘Common Purpose’?

      • HooksLaw

        What a shambolic pathetic desperate conspiracy. And you hope to be taken seriously.

    • Justathought

      Since when have the French held up as examples for the UK to follow?

      Like most I’m wondering where the gay marriage idea originally came from (possibly France?) but setting up gay churches would still not make gay marriage legal unless the law changed.

      The UK has an established church and normally it is they who should provide the pastoral guidance to the nation on these matters. After the debacle over the ordination of women Bishops there is not much point looking to them for clear leadership on this issue either.

      • TomTom

        Nationalise the Church of England and make the Archbishiop and his “employees” Civil Servants so Protestants can create a New Presbyterian Church and be PRO-TESTANTS and defy The BIG STATE

      • TomTom

        An Establioshed Church is an ERASTIAN church. Like the BBC the C of E should be under FULL Government control with a Minister responsible to Parliament and all Cathedrals and Clegry Pensions covered by the Treasury… is simply ridiculous to expect Laity to pay Clerghy Pensions yet be treated to lectures friom MInisters as to how they must acquiesce in Government policy. Time for a complete split between Religion and State with ALL religions statinmg that they are APART from the Big Brother State

      • Swiss Bob

        Since when have the French held up as examples for the UK to follow?

        “The English should be more like the French*

        Google returns Two Billion results in 0.22 seconds.

        • Justathought

          Okay Bob just try shouting “The English should be more like the French” in an English pub, and then see what they make of your Google justification !

          • Swiss Bob

            In the pubs in Chelsea I used to drink in they’d all laugh and agree.

      • DavidDP

        “Like most I’m wondering where the gay marriage idea originally came from”

        I’ll take a wild guess – gay couples that would like to get married like anyone else in love can?

        • Coffeehousewall

          So a man should be able to marry his sister if he is in love? Or four men should be able to marry if they love each other, or a man and his dog, or a man and a 12 year old girl?

          Once marriage is dedefined – and that is the intent – then marriage will cease to exist, which is the goal. if anything is marriage then nothing is marriage.

          • DavidDP

            The moment you define marriage you beg the questions you’ve asked. The fact that gay people can suddenly get married doesn’t make it more or less likely that brothers and sisters could be legally married.

            But regardless, I’m interested in how my marriage will suddenly ceased to exist if gay people can marry. Pleas explain further.

    • HooksLaw

      Marriage is not a religious matter its a legal civil affair. I might well have some sympathy with religious concerns but the church’s attitude to women bishops tells us how their minds work (and I am a churchgoer). We will gloss over the catholic church.

      There seems little difference between a civil partnership and marriage. I don’t really think that ‘marriage’ is appropriate for gays since it is a legal safeguard for children as much as anything. But its pretty dim to work up some pompous sound and fury over it.

      • Swiss Bob

        But its pretty dim to work up some pompous sound and fury over it.

        This is the first comment I’ve ever made on the subject, so little ‘sound’ from me and if you think I’m furious it is in your head not mine.

        NB Of course you may not be addressing that point to me but you have a habit of abusing other posters.

        • HooksLaw

          That remark really was aimed at the 118 MPs. I can see why you may have thought otherwise.

          My comment to you was aimed at the emphasis on religion. I repeat that marriage is a civil affair. If there were no church there would still be marriage. I continually regard it as silly that the church ignores one of Our Lord’s most profound teachings,

          ‘Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.’

          I do not see that the church will be forced into marriage performing gay marriages, though it does seem odd that if two gay Christians wanted to be married in church that the church would deny them. That seems uncharitable to me.
          Not least since it seems more of a stigma to be openly christian today than openly gay.

    • Tyrone

      The government has said many times that when gay marriage is introduced, it will be restricted to civil marriage. Religious same-sex marriages will not be allowed, even within those churches which have no problem with same-sex marriage. So government is only interfering in religious matters in that it is actually PREVENTING churches from conducting same-sex marriages.

    • eeore

      “It’s strange that I haven’t seen anything in the UK press about the mass demonstrations in France against Gay Marriage.”

      It’s strange at all. There are plenty of stories that the UK press never report in order to promote the idea that they never happened. If those stories refuse to die the standard tactic then becomes to call them conspiracy theories.

    • DavidDP

      “One thing I don’t understand about the whole business is why don’t gays form their own church and marry themselves rather than trying to get other churches to conform to their particular view?”

      Um, because as things stand, they can’t? Hence their campaign for equal treatment to be able to. Very few are campaigning to force churches to provide married services for them.

      You ate absolutely right – render unto Ceaser, etc. Hence the plan to allow the state to marry same sex couples, while leaving it up t religious institutions if they want to follow suit or not; forcing them to do so is not on the cards.

    • Jasper Maskelyne

      The Guardian reported the French protests quite thoroughly, actually

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