Following the resignation of a local Conservative Party chairman over his opposition to the equal marriage bill, a gay businessman who had intended to secure the position has lost out.

Earlier this month, Edmund Costelloe, quit as chairman of Somerton and Frome Constituency Conservative Association, and had been a member of the party for 49 years.

He quit over his opposition to equal marriage, saying the David Cameron had “lost touch” with his party and had attacked “family values”. He went on to say that equal marriage was unnecessary, as civil partnerships were already legal,

Ivan Massow, gay businessman and entrepreneur, had applied to be the Conservative candidate for the constituency, however a local man, David Warburton, was selected to contest the Somerton and Frome seat at the General Election in 2015 for the Tories.

Mr Warburton said: “I am thrilled and honoured to have the opportunity to stand up for the residents of Somerton and Frome.

“As a husband and father I understand the demands and pressures that families are going through. Having been a cleaner, a van driver and a shopkeeper before going into teaching and setting up my own business, I know what it is to have struggled. These are experiences that I am keen to take to Parliament to benefit local people.”

The seat has been held by Liberal Democrat David Heath, who is currently the farming minister, since 1997.

Earlier in February, in its second reading, MPs voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill by 400 to 175, a majority of 225.

The Public Bill Committee of the House of Commons – made up of MPs who both have spoken against and in favour of LGBT equality – last week began the task of scrutinising equal marriage bill for England and Wales.

Should it pass its third reading in the Commons, the bill would then head to the House of Lords, where members of the upper chamber would also need to vote in favour before it could become law.