CHESTER’S Tory MP Stephen Mosley enthusiastically supported gay marriages in the Commons on Tuesday but the issue has divided political colleagues across the region.
MPs voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, by 400 to 175, a majority of 225 - despite the opposition of almost half the Tory MPs.
Mr Mosley offered his opinion from the platform of a Conservative conference in Chester last weekend in answer to questioner Peter Brand, of Nantwich, who suggested marriage was the union of a man and a woman.
Mr Brand is in line with the views of the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, who has signed a national petition supporting the traditional concept of marriage.
But the city MP, who campaigned in the city’s gay clubs when seeking election, received applause on telling the audience: “If two people want to get married I’ve got no problems with that and no problems with the state recognising that either.”
He added: “This is an issue which does divide the generations. But if you talk to people under the age of 30, under the age of 40, they cannot understand what the fuss is about. If we turn our back on young people it just sends out completely the wrong image of our party.”
Fellow Tory Graham Evans (Weaver Vale), who abstained from what was a free vote, told the same event he was ‘fiscally Conservative but socially liberal’. However, being in a marginal seat presented a dilemma.
“When you have got 200 Conservative voters saying they will not vote for me at the next election it puts me in a very difficult position,” he said.
Labour MP Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port & Neston), who voted in favour of the new law, found himself on the same side as David Cameron.
He suggested the move was a ‘desperate attempt’ by the Tories to appear modern and is enjoying the splits among his opponents.
Mr Miller says it is ‘entirely a matter’ for the churches whether they wish to endorse such a marriage contract.
When Tory MP Stephen O’Brien (Eddisbury) voted against the proposal earlier this week it was the first time he had ever been out of step with his government or Prime Minister.
The MP, who has received about 2,000 letters on the subject, said: “If it is to be consistent with ‘marriage’, in my view there will need to be clarity about the concept of annulment/consummation, adultery and grounds for divorce just as there are currently for heterosexual married couples.”