GAINSBOROUGH could soon see the legalisation of gay marriage - but debate is still rife over whether it’s right or wrong.
Last week, the Government announced that legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies will be brought forward next year.
However, religious organisations which do not want to conduct same-sex marriages will not be forced to, and can choose to ‘opt in’ to carry them out if they choose.
Gainsborough Conservative MP Edward Leigh has been very vocal in his opposition to the decision and will be among 130 rebel Tories opposing coalition legislation when it goes to a free vote in 2013.
“I think the whole issue is a distraction from more important matters,” Mr Leigh told The Standard. “I think that jobs and Government spending are more important. However, I have received scores of letters from constiuents about this and they’re all against it. Marriage as it is has stood the test of time, and all that this legislation does is irritate people.”
He continued: “People in civil partnerships have all of the rights and privileges as those in marriage and this new change is not wanted by the people. The vast majority of people are quite happy with civil partnerships.”
“The Government says that it can make it water-tight but it can’t. It’s open to legal challenge and the Government is going to land itself and the Church of England in more and more of a legal quagmire. The Church was astonished when it heard of this as it thought it would be for civil and not religious marriages.”
“I intend to keep working against this and telling the Government that there is no demand for it.”
Responding to the claim that his own religion may have played a part in many of his actions, Mr Leigh said: “I am a Roman Catholic and make no secret of it - just about every Christian denomination is opposed to this.”
One religious group which has generally been in favour of same-sex marriages and is already permitted to hold civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples is the Quakers.
Clerk of the Gainsborough Meeting of Quakers, Brenda Knudssen, said: “In my personal opinion, I feel that homosexual couples have every right to be joined in a religious ceremony in the name of equality. However, I am concerned that non-Quakers may try to hijack the freedoms that we enjoy in a way which manipulates our faith or uses us as a loophoole.”
Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain, added: “The day the first same-sex couple can marry in their Quaker meeting will be a wonderful day for marriage and a great day for religious freedom in Britain.”
Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller said: “Our proposals mean that marriage would be available to everyone. I feel strongly that, if a couple wish to show their love and commitment to each other, the State should not stand in their way.”
According to the 2011 Census, 110 people in West Lindsey were registered in a same-sex civil partnership.
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