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Havering MPs divided on subject of gay marriage as bill passes through Commons

PUBLISHED: 15:00 06 February 2013 | UPDATED: 15:38 06 February 2013

Dame Angela Watkinson MP

Dame Angela Watkinson MP

Archant

Parliament last night voted in favour of allowing same-sex marriages in the UK – but Havering MPs, like the House of Commons, are divided on the issue.

Hornchurch and Upminster MP Dame Angela Watkinson (Conservative), who voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, spoke during the debate of “the gay people who have approached me who feel the vows of commitment they are allowed to exchange in the civil partnership ceremony are not regarded with the same value as those in a marriage.”

Speaking to the Recorder after the bill’s second reading, she added: “While no heterosexual individual will suffer any harm or disadvantage, gay couples will benefit from having their lifetime commitment recognised as being of equal value. I voted for this bill as I think it was the right thing to do.

“I have gained many gay colleagues and friends over the years and know them to be good people. There is no place for prejudice or exclusion in 2013.”

But Romford MP Andrew Rosindell was one of 136 Tory MPs who opposed the bill, despite its support from the government.

“Marriage has always been between a man and a woman and once we move away from that there’s no end to where it will lead,” he told the Recorder.

“Do you mean that a man can marry more than one wife like they do in the Muslim countries? Is it right that you can marry someone in your own family?”

He added: “There’s not a church in Romford that hasn’t been in touch with me and said how much they fear being penalised for refusing to carry out a ceremony.”

The bill provides that no religious organisation can be forced to carry out a same-sex ceremony – but Mr Rosindell said he feared this could be overturned by the European Court of Human Rights.

“It’s not about equality,” he said. “Equality is already there.”

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas (Labour) voted in favour of the bill, but added: “For me, as a catholic, marriage is a sacrament carried out in church between a man and woman.

“There will be those in the coming debates who will and seek to force churches to perform same sex marriages. I will oppose this throughout.

“But as long as the sacrament of marriage in church between a man and woman remains protected then I accept the changes in the civic ceremonies for same sex couples.”

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