East Surrey and Gloucestershire Tories resign over same-sex marriage bill
Two prominent local Conservative Party members, Michael Keenan of East Surrey and Alan Bensted of Gloucestershire are resigning in protest over the same-sex marriage bill.
Councillor Michael Keenan of Tandridge District Council in East Surrey claims to be so incensed by Prime Minister David Cameron’s position on equal marriage that he may not ever vote for the Conservatives again, reports the Tandridge Mirror.
Mr Keenan, a Roman Catholic, explained: “I am stepping down over the gay marriage issue. I do not agree with the Conservative position behind it. I take the view that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I guess I am a traditionalist in that respect.”
He continued: “I think this being voted through has taken me by surprise and I hope that the PM knows this is setting a dangerous precedent for future bills.”
After six years as a Tory councillor, Mr Keenan will stand down as East Surrey Conservative Association chairman on 8 March and hand in his letter of resignation to the district council on 11 March.
His announcement comes at the same time as the resignation of Alan Bensted, the chairman for the local Conservative Party in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. He is also stepping down due to the party’s position on equal marriage.
Mr Bensted resigned from the role after his Tory constituency MP Mark Harper voted in favour of same-sex marriage.
“He [Mr Harper] voted with his conscience and that’s his choice,” said Mr Bensted, “but he has to understand that other people still have their own conscience and some have opposite views.”
The resignations follow the announcement of David Silvester, a councillor in the Oxfordshire town of Henley, who resigned from the Conservative Party because of David Cameron’s support for equal marriage.
More: Alan Bensted, Conservative Party, David Cameron, East Surrey, England, equal marriage, Forest of Dean, gay marriage, gay wedding, gloucestershire, lesbian marriage, lesbian wedding, Mark Harper, marriage, marriage equality, Michael Keenan, same sex marriage, same sex weddings, Tandridge District Council, tory councillor, UK Marriage Bill, wedding