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