In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, but in reality a letter to fellow Tory MPs, three of the most senior Conservative ministers have pleaded with their colleagues to back same-sex marriage.
The letter, written by the holders of three of the great offices of state, Foreign Secretary William Hague, Chancellor George Osborne and Home Secretary Theresa May said that changing the law “is the right thing to do at the right time”.
Today the Commons will vote on the Bill to allow same-sex marriage.
Civil partnerships for gay couples were a great step forward, but the question now is whether it is any longer acceptable to exclude people from marriage simply because they love someone of the same sex.
Marriage has evolved over time. We believe that opening it up to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, the institution. As David Cameron has said, we should support gay marriage not in spite of being Conservatives, but because we are Conservatives.
Our party also has a strong belief in religious freedom, a vital element of a free society. The Bill ensures that no faith group will be forced to conduct same-sex marriages. The legal advice is clear that these protections for religious groups cannot be overturned by the courts.
Religious freedom works both ways. Why should faith groups, such as the Quakers, that wish to conduct gay marriages be forbidden from doing so? This Bill will enhance religious freedom, not restrict it.
Attitudes towards gay people have changed. A substantial majority of the public now favour allowing same-sex couples to marry, and support has increased rapidly. This is the right thing to do at the right time. We will be among the Conservative MPs voting for this Bill today.
William Hague MP (Con)
George Osborne MP (Con)
Theresa May MP (Con)