GAINSBOROUGH MP Edward Leigh has waded into the gay marriage debate once again - this time to ask forchanges to the bill to protect Christians who oppose same-sex weddings in churches.
Mr Leigh has been very vocal to his opposition to same sex marriages over the last year. Now, he’s calling for changes to the Equality Act to protect Christians and those from other religions who support the current definition of marriage.
By a margin of nearly three to one, MPs endorsed a Ten Minute Rule Bill moved by Mr Leigh MP to change the Equality Act that would make ‘marriage’ a protected category - meaning that those who believe in traditional marriage would ‘not be penalised for their beliefs’.
During the debate Mr Leigh highlighted the recent case of Adrian Smith - a housing manager from the Trafford Housing Trust who was disciplined for posting a message saying that gay marriage in churches was “an equality too far” on his personal Facebook page. He was demoted and had his pay docked by 40 per cent. Mr Leigh warned MPs that if pressed ahead with, plans to redefine marriage, hundreds of thousands of people could be disciplined, sacked by their employers or be treated as outcasts.
Citing legal advice from a top QC Aidan O’Neill, he warned that the Government’s plans would have serious consequences for those who work in the public sector unless there are adequate legal protections.
Speaking after the vote, Mr Leigh said:: “Army and NHS chaplains who preach in favour of traditional marriage in their own churches on Sunday could find themselves in trouble for it at work on Monday. Tens of thousands of teachers are at risk of disciplinary action for expressing traditional views.”
He continued: “Although my Bill to help these people will not become law, by voting for it today the House of Commons has expressed concern about this important issue. We must now make sure at the very least that the Government’s same-sex marriage bill is amended along the lines we have proposed.”
One church in favour of gay marriage is The Quakers. The Standard previously spoke to Clerk of the Gainsborough Meeting of Quakers, Brenda Knudssen, said: “I feel that homosexual couples have every right to be joined in a religious ceremony. However, I am concerned that non-Quakers may try to hijack the freedoms that we enjoy.”