Conservative MP, Edward Leigh, has come under heavy criticism for a speech he made at today’s House of Commons debate around the equal marriage bill during which he attacked the Gender Recognition Act, and criticised efforts towards equality.
During his speech, he said, discussing the perceived “evolution” of marriage, that the bill represented a “revolution not evolution”.
The MP for Gainsborough in Lincolnshire since 1997 discussed efforts towards equality and said: “We have to get away from the idea that every single thing in life can be forced through the merciless prism of equality.”
Mr Leigh also said that marriage was “profoundly pro-woman” as it was “generally men who have the propensity to want to wander off into other relationships”, leaving the woman “holding the baby”.
He went on to say that he had six children, that he felt “blessed”, and that he knew not every heterosexual could produce children, but said that:
“We should indeed treat each other with tolerance and everybody else’s own sexuality with understanding, but the fundamental question that we are deciding today is whether English law should declare for the first time that two people of the same sex can marry,” he said.
“Now Parliament is, of course, sovereign. We can vote for what we want to. But we have to be careful that law and reality do not conflict. In 1648 the Earl of Pembroke, seeking to make the point that sovereign Parliament was [unintelligible], said that Parliament could do anything but make a man a woman, or a woman a man.
“Of course in 2004, we did exactly that with the Gender Recognition Act. We are now proposing to make equally stark changes with the essence of marriage.”
He said: “I am a conservative. I do believe that we should be concerned about equality, but not at the expense of every other institution. We should be concerned with equality, but not at the expense of every other consideration, not at the expense of tradition.”
He concluded by saying that voting for equal marriage would be “a final kick in the teeth for loyal conservatives”.
Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey & Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, tweeted about his speech, saying: “Edward Leigh begins his speech in 1649 Only 363 [sic] more years to go in four minutes”.
Last week, Mr Leigh said he feared that opponents of equal marriage who work in the public sector will be “treated as outcasts” unless the Equality Act is changed, following a teacher being sacked for declaring he was opposed to equal marriage on Facebook.
The Conservative MP had been very vocally opposed to the government’s “foolish” policy on equal marriage and said he was “surprised” the issue has generated such a large reaction from his constituents.