The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill commons debate: The Christians that spoke in favour.

Yesterday the House of Commons had the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill along with a debate. The vote passed with a large majority and it will now go to be ammended by the House of Commons before being passed to the House of Lords and so on before, hopefully, becoming law. Much has been heard of the Christians in parliament who in the weeks leading up to the vote who went on to speak and vote against the bill but watching the debate yesterday there were also those who spoke and voted in favour, but this isn’t covered so readily in the media so I thought I would outline the Christian support for the bill in the House of Commons. All quotes from the debate are taken from the They Work For You transcript available here.

Toby Perkins Labour MP for Chesterfield:

As a Christian, I see Christianity as a tremendously generous religion. As I have said previously, I think that Jesus Christ led the way on promoting equalities. There are any number of stories in the Bible that make it absolutely clear that Jesus stuck up for groups that had been oppressed over the years. As a Christian, I feel entirely comfortable voting in favour of this Bill. As someone who got married at the famous Crooked Spire church in Chesterfield, I do not think that my marriage will be besmirched or undermined in any way by the fact that gay people in the future might also be able to say that they are married.

See the whole of Toby’s speech here.

Stephen Doughty Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth:

Although it is of great personal regret to me that my Church currently does not permit same-sex marriage, what is exemplified in that quote—as, indeed, it is in the rest of the Bill—is that it will not be forced to do so under the proposed legislation. There could not be a more respectful and appropriate compromise. Let me be clear: I will argue and pray for my Church to change its mind from within, but that is fundamentally a theological decision for my Church. The Bill is about not compulsion but permission—permission for the state to offer the legal institution of marriage to all those who request it, and permission for religious organisations to do the same should they so wish.

The whole speech is available here.

Susan Elan Jones Labour MP for Clwyd South:

Let me explain my main reason for wanting to speak in this debate. As a straight woman of the Christian faith, I cannot believe it is right that I could be married in a church—and also that people of no faith whatever could be married in a church—yet believers who are lesbian and gay are shunned by the civil laws of the land on this issue, and even denominations that freely wish to marry them are barred from performing one of the most fundamental sacramental and pastoral duties. Do Members honestly believe that we should say to a Quaker couple whose meeting house wishes to perform a religious ceremony that they should be unable to have that, or that we should say the same to reformed or liberal Jews or to Unitarians? What about the United Reformed Church, which brought in religious ceremonies for civil partnerships last year? That Church was created from non-conformist traditions whose adherents were once barred from standing for office in this place and barred from our universities, and whose burial rites were not permitted in our parish churchyards. Do Members seriously believe that, in the 21st century, we should be denying religious freedom to those faith groups again?

The whole of Susan’s speech is here

Jonathan Reynolds Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde:

Having listened carefully to the representations I have received from constituents on both sides of the debate, I will vote for equal marriage today. I will do so because I am a Christian, not in spite of it.

I have just taken this small part of Jonathan’s speech as I couldn’t just select on part to include here you can read the whole speech that he gave here.

David Lammy Labour MP for Tottenham

 The Jesus I know was born a refugee, illegitimate, with a death warrant on his name, and in a barn among animals. He would stand up for minorities. That is why it is right for those of religious conviction to vote for this Bill.

David Lammy’s speech was very passionate, one of the best speeches in favour during the debate. Again I have only inclded a couple of lines as choosing just one part of his speech isn’t really possible. I suggest watching the whole speech here. However, if you would prefer to read it you can find his speech (split as he gave way to another member here and here.

Eric Ollerenshaw Conservative MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

I equate this debate with what happened to divorce law in the previous century. Interestingly, in all this talk about marriage always being the same and its continued popularity, no one seems to have mentioned the loosening of the divorce laws. As I said, I am a Roman Catholic, and in that faith divorce is treated differently, but nobody, to my knowledge, has ever challenged the right of a Roman Catholic priest or, indeed, an Anglican to refuse to marry a divorced couple. It has never actually happened, and that is how I see this issue. I approach it with principles based on the reciprocity that exists in any democratic society between minorities and our protection of their rights. I believe that the Bill strikes the right balance.

Other Members mentioned civil partnerships. Mr Lammy went slightly over the top and historically I think he was incorrect. It was not Rosa Parks to begin with. The principle of separate but equal was defined as wrong by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Topeka Education Board in 1959—if my history teaching is still there. Nevertheless, he was right about it being different. All we are asking for in the Bill, principally, is civil marriage. The majority of existing civil marriages are between divorcees, so the Roman Catholic Church does not recognise them anyway, and that is fine; it is permitted—and it will be permitted to keep its particular beliefs in this case as well.

Some faiths—this is where the theology gets complicated—and Christian groups actually want to carry out these marriages. I thought that was what I came here to do—to protect those freedoms and retain that balance. As I said, that is the principle I work on: a reciprocity between minorities in respect of their beliefs and right to carry on with their lifestyle as they wish, provided it does not interfere with that of others. I do not see how the Bill creates any problems with that or will prevent me in future from defending the Plymouth Brethrens, the Jewish faith, my own Church’s faith or the Muslim faith.

It’s great to see that a Catholic (who appears to theologically be against same sex marriage) speaking in favour of the bill, happy with the provisions in place to protect those who cannot consciously offer marriage to same sex couples. The full speech is here.

Mark Menzies Conservative MP for Fylde.

I am a Catholic and religious freedoms are very important to me, as is my religion, but so too are equality and tolerance. I think that the Bill protects both those things. I came here to abstain, but I have listened to the debate like I have listened to no other, and it is now my intention not to abstain, but to support the Bill .

This was the whole of Mark’s speech but you can see it here if you wish to.

The only way that I had of identifying Christians who spoke in favour of the bill was to look for those who called themselves a Christian or a Catholic during their speech so there may be others that I have missed. It is great to see the Christian support for this bill in the house and the passionate, well thought speeches that they made. The bill, with it’s protection, increases religious freedom as it allows those of us who would want to to offer religious same sex marriage without forcing anyone who doesn’t want to to do so and I am personally very pleased that the vote passed in favour of the bill last night.

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9 responses to “The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill commons debate: The Christians that spoke in favour.”

  1. Ian Bower says :

    I am Atheist and which to thank all who supported equality in the right to marry.
    Thank you.

  2. Phil Groom says :

    Thank you: a very helpful roundup, and a good counter to Bishop of Bradford Nick Baines’ recent post which characterised the debate as lacking intelligent input.

  3. Phil Groom says :

    Sorry – should have provided a link: Horror and hurt

  4. Phil Groom says :

    PS: Don’t know whether or not Alistair Burt spoke during the debate, but he too is a Christian and his view may be found here: Thank you for supporting Equal Marriage: The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP responds

    • James says :

      I can’t find him in the record for the debate so thank you for mentioning it! Definitely good to hear about the Christian supporters in Parliament :)

  5. Ste Kenwright says :

    Thanks for this. Most don’t publicly state religion (perhaps for good democratic reasons) but so far today I’ve tracked down 36 practising #Christian MPs who (rightly in my view)! voted for equalmarriage. I am unsure about naming them, as they might get unwarranted grief & some sources might be out of date. I would encourage MPs of all faiths to state their support on the appropriate Twitter feeds etc like @C4EqualMarriage and @Out4Marriage

    • James says :

      Certainly interesting information! I figured that there would be a fair few more that either didn’t speak or didn’t identify themselves as Christian during the debate. As you say it may be better not to name them which is partly why I didn’t want to do too much digging to find if any other MPs who spoke were Christians.

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