A majority of MPs in the House of Commons have indicated that they intend to vote for the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales.
The figures, collated by the Coalition for Equal Marriage show that 330 MPs have said in interviews or letters to constituents that they will support David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s planned legislation that will go to a vote before Valentine’s Day next month. In contrast just 126 have said that they oppose the legislation.
As 4 Sinn Fein election victors have not taken up their seats in the House of Commons, the theoretical number of MPs needed for an absolute majority is 324. However, very few pieces of legislation are ever voted on by every member of the House of Commons. No party is issuing a ‘whip’ on the vote, so MPs are under no obligation to attend and it is expected that a number of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs will choose to abstain rather than vote in for or against the legislation.
However, the House of Lords remains the big unknown. Very few peers have indicated whether they will even attend a vote let alone support changing the law.
Yvette Cooper, the Labour shadow home secretary and shadow minister for equalities said: “The Labour Party strongly supports same sex marriage. When couples love each other and want to make a commitment, it should be a cause for celebration, not discrimination. Those couples should be able to marry, regardless of their gender or sexuality.
“My shadow cabinet colleagues and I will continue to be loud and proud supporters of same sex marriage, and I’m pleased there is a clear parliamentary majority in support of the forthcoming legislation.”
Conservative MP and former Home Office minister Nick Herbert said: “With the polls showing that a clear majority of the public support equal marriage and now evidence that a majority of MPs will back it, too, this is a reform whose time has come. Its opponents should recognise the democratic will and focus on ensuring legitimate protections for religious freedom rather than trying to frustrate a change that is so widely supported.”
Stephen Gilbert, the Liberal Democrat MP that proposed the party’s policy to support marriage equality said: “Liberal Democrats have long fought for equal marriage and now we’re in government we’re committed to making it happen. That a majority of MPs have come out in favour of is a very significant step forward. The right to love and commit to who you chose is a fundamental one and whether you’re straight or gay, the civil institution recognising that love and commitment should be the same.”
James Lattimore and Conor Marron, the couple that founded the Coalition for Equal Marriage said that the numbers show that changing the law was supported by the public and by MPs.