Joseph Watts, Political editor
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Several Norfolk MPs today threw their weight behind proposals to introduce marriage for same sex couples.
Their support comes just days after it emerged that other Norfolk and Suffolk MPs have threatened to vote against proposals which could be brought forward in Parliament as early as January.
Norwich South MP Simon Wright said: “I support the equal marriage proposals because I think it’s right to introduce greater equality into society in general terms - this seems to be a reasonable way of doing so.”
Currently gay couples can enter into civil partnerships that give them almost exactly the same legal rights as married couples.
However, proposals which prime minister David Cameron backs would see marriage redefined, so that its current definition of being between a man and a woman would be altered to accommodate same sex couples.
Mr Wright added: “What’s significant is the division. Having different labels, marriage for one and civil partnerships for the other - it’s right to recognise that the commitment is the same.
“There is an artificial division between marriage and civil partnerships and I don’t think it’s right that people should be treated differently just because of sexual orientation.”
A House of Commons vote on the change could see 118 out of 303 Conservative MPs rebel, including Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Therese Coffey, who represents Suffolk Coastal.
However Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: “I have supported equal marriage and have said so publicly at Norwich Pride last year.
“I think it’s a matter of equal rights.”
Mr Cameron has said he will allow his MPs to vote as they wish, but if his proposals are ditched it would be a significant personal defeat for the prime minister.
While the proposals’ supporters have said no religious institution would be forced to carry out a gay marriage ceremony, rebels have raised concerns that those which refuse may leave themselves open to being sued after the changes are brought into law.
However, South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss added: “The proposal put forward by the government relates to civil marriages – not ones conducted in church.”