February 6, 2013
Last night MPs voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill by 400 to 175.
A number of constituents will be interested to know how I voted on this subject.
The short answer is that I abstained by not voting on the Bill.
The longer explanation is this. My personal inclination was to support the Bill. However, as a Member of Parliament I have been elected to represent the interests and concerns of my constituents. On taking soundings around the constituency, it became clear to me that there was strong opposition to the proposal.
As such I conducted an online survey to gauge wider opinion from my constituents. I received 1200 replies, of which the majority were not in favour of the Bill.
This left me with a dilemma. On principle, I could not vote against a proposal which I believe is fundamentally about equal rights. I support the right of same sex couples to commit to each other in marriage, as long as individuals and institutions are also free to choose whether they wish to conduct such ceremonies.
However, to vote for the Bill would have shown insufficient respect for the strength of feeling against it in the area I represent. So, I abstained. This may frustrate some but I hope that most will see I did my best to find out what my constituents felt and did not impose my personal view on a very sensitive subject.