Bromley: The debate over same-sex marriage

PUBLISHED: 11:57 17 December 2012

A wedding cake topper for a civil partnership ceremony

A wedding cake topper for a civil partnership ceremony

PA Wire/Press Association Images

With news that Beckenham MP, Bob Stewart, is likely to vote against gay marriage when the matter is raised in Parliament, The Times asked two people for their differing views on the issue.

A date is yet to be set for the vote but more than 100 Conservative MPs have indicated they will oppose it, either via writing to their constituents or by voicing their opinions publicly.

Prime Minister David Cameron is keen to conduct the vote as quickly as possible, with the possibility it could take place as early as January.

While it is a free vote – meaning MPs can go against the Prime Minister’s position without facing disciplinary action – some commentators say it could cause the largest split seen within the Conservative Party in recent years.

Marguerite McLaughlin, chief executive of Metro, a Bromley gay advisory service

Metro is committed to equality for all and to combating all forms of prejudice and discrimination, which means we are fully supportive of equal marriage for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

We welcome the government’s proposals to legislate for equal civil marriage and believe that the current inequality in law is utterly untenable.

Through our work with young LGBT people in Bromley and elsewhere we see the damaging effects that inequality and discrimination has on their health and wellbeing, self-esteem, aspirations and quality of life.

Additionally findings from our current national research project Youth Chances, reveal high rates of discrimination, bullying, abuse and self-harm amongst young LGBT people.

The question mark that hangs over full equality for LGBT people in current debates about equal marriage is damaging to all of us involved.

It is particularly damaging to the life chances of our young people.

It is of course the prerogative of all MPs to make their own voting decisions - particularly within a free vote.

But I would simply ask all of our political representatives to consider the equality and human rights of all of their constituents when making these hugely important decisions.

Thomas Pritchard, 41, of Clock House

My opposition to the gay marriage bill is based on the grounds that it is unnecessary and it will bring conflict where there is currently harmony.

I have had the privilege of being a guest at more than one civil union and I have been delighted to witness the lifelong commitments that my gay friends have made to one another.

I think that this is a superb state of affairs which provides for equality for same sex couples and that no further change is necessary.

No religious body is compelled to perform civil unions although some churches freely choose to bless such unions, where their congregations think this fit.

If parliament legislates for gay marriage then there will inevitably be demands that such marriages be solemnised in churches and other places of worship.

It is foreseeable that Anglican and Catholic churches will withdraw from conducting marriages altogether rather than be compelled to act contrary to the teachings of their faiths.

It sits ill with me that in the name of homosexual rights, the rights of Christians should be taken away and the right of heterosexual couples to marry in the church where they worship be curtailed.

I passionately support equality for homosexuals and civil unions, yet I am equally passionate in my support of the rights of religious congregations to practice their faiths as they see fit. No to gay marriage.

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