Labour will be offering a “free vote” on gay marriage – but the whole shadow cabinet will vote in favour

11th December, 2012 10:13 am

There has been some confusion in recent hours about what Labour’s exact position will be when it comes to the vote on gay marriage. The original understanding amongst MPs was that the vote would be whipped, however it now appears that only applies to gay marriages of the civil ceremony variety. Labour MPs will be getting a free vote on gay marriages that include a religious element (i.e. those held in religious buildings). Blame for the confusion over Labour’s position is being laid at the door oft he government, whose own position on exactly what votes will be brought forward has, in the view of the party, been confused. A Labour source confirmed to us that:

“If the Bill includes religious provisions we will respect a free vote.”

That could allow a small but significant number of MPs who oppose gay marriage (or gay marriage held in religious buildings) to vote against the majority of the party without breaking the whip.

This decision is likely to anger those within the party who had hoped Labour would whip the vote.

However senior Labour figures are keen to stress that the entire shadow cabinet will be backing gay marriage – which may not necessarily be the case for the government – and that Labour’s support for equal marriage should not be considered in doubt, with well over 80% of Labour MPs expected to support it, even in a free vote.

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  • Redshift1

    To be honest when I first heard this I thought ‘ridiculous’ because I thought we were referring to the civil gay marriages.

    Frankly, given churches have all kinds of restrictions (including regular attendance) on who they let get married in house. I kind of feel that a) do I really as an atheist care if they want to make themselves look increasingly out-dated and anachronistic and b) actually forcing them do them will probably just lead to them finding another excuse not to wed the couple in the building.

    It is the lack of state gay marriage that is unacceptable – with serious implications therefore for the C of E as the state religion BUT for all others, I don’t really see why it matters. Doesn’t it just say to gay people, ‘look why follow that religion/denomination when they think you are inherently living in sin and have no respect for your love?’. Abandon the bigots, let them cast the rope that hangs them.

    • But religious gay marriage is not going to be forced on religions. It’s an optional thing that faith groups can opt into, and most won’t. There is absolutely nothing in the proposals that forces gay marriage in churches – in fact, by having an opt-in system, apparently it helps to protect those that don’t won’t to take part from being taken to court over it.

      • Redshift1

        That’s what I thought initially, but that isn’t what Mark is saying above.

  • Disappointed that it won’t be whipped, and I’m also disappointed that people keep pointing to the religious freedom element as if said freedom was ever at risk. It’s about choice, nobody’s being forced to do anything they don’t want to.

  • Hugh

    I’m slightly baffled that the government has any say whatsoever over whether religious institutions can marry people or not, to be honest – certainly outside the CofE.

    Once the government chooses to amend the civil law to permit same sex marriages, I had rather supposed churches could do what they wanted in any case. I’m not sure why what the quakers get up to within the framework of the civil law is any of the government’s business.

    • I think religious marriages are covered by different laws? Remember civil marriage is relatively modern, it all used to be done in a church originally.

      • PaulHalsall

        That changed in 1857

  • Labour is shooting itself in the foot here. ‘Issues of conscience’ is such a cop out; surely everything is an issue of conscience. If a whipped vote upsets a few oddballs then let them be upset. If they are shadow ministers then they are welcome to see themselves out. They won’t be missed.

  • metrolivia

    Cameron is supporting Gay Marriage in Church because he is after the ‘pink’ vote and for no other reason. I thought this was obvious as he has ostracized most other groups thus far. Labour should not sit on the fence with this one…we live in a democracy and we should be seen to be democratic. The option should be in place for Gay Marriage in a Church and for the individual church to make it’s own decisions..not unlike a landlord choosing who to serve!

  • And I think its fair to say that those who vote against won’t exactly do their standing in the party a lot of good

  • And I think its fair to say that those who vote against won’t exactly do their standing in the party a lot of good

  • And I think its fair to say that those who vote against won’t exactly do their standing in the party a lot of good

  • And I think its fair to say that those who vote against won’t exactly do their standing in the party a lot of good

  • And I think its fair to say that those who vote against won’t exactly do their standing in the party a lot of good

  • And I think its fair to say that those who vote against won’t exactly do their standing in the party a lot of good

  • And I think its fair to say that those who vote against won’t exactly do their standing in the party a lot of good

  • And I think its fair to say that those who vote against won’t exactly do their standing in the party a lot of good

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