The Conservative Party’s Maria Hutchings, who is against same-sex marriage, has been defeated in the Eastleigh by-election by the Liberal Democrat Mike Thornton, a supporter of marriage equality. She finished third behind UKIP’s Diane James.
Mrs Hutchings, who came third with was 10,559 votes was a controversial candidate for the Tories. Her opposition to equal marriage surfaced last month when she revealed that had she already been elected as an MP, she would have joined the 136 Tories who voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill last month.
It was passed by the Commons with a majority of 225 and the bill is now receiving further parliamentary scrutiny before a third reading by MPs and House of Lords approval.
On the first day of her campaign, Mrs Hutchings was asked about a previous interview made in 2005 to the Daily Mail in which she was quoted as saying she did not care about refugees and another in which she allegedly claimed that Labour had done more for “the immigrants, the gays, the bloody foxes” than for children with disabilities.
Mrs Hutchings, who has a disabled child, claimed she had been misquoted and told the Guardian: “I’ve never said anything about gays or bloody foxes. I’ve said nothing about gays and foxes and I don’t know where that’s come from.”
In response to a question from a Twitter user, Lib Dem victor Mike Thornton confirmed his support for marriage equality on 12 February.
“I’m in favour of #equalmarriage and am delighted that it was strongly supported by @libdems in Parliament,” he tweeted.
Mr Thornton won the seat with 13,342 votes, ahead of UKIP’s candidate Diane James who secured 11,571 votes. UKIP strongly oppose allowing same-sex couples to marry although they support civil partnerships. Labour’s candidate John O’Farrell came fourth with 4,088 votes.
The by-election was triggered by the resignation of former Lib Dem minister Chris Huhne, after he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Turnout was 53%.