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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Cumbria's MPs split on gay marriage vote

Four of Cumbria’s six MPs were among those who voted in favour of gay marriage legislation in the House of Commons.

Tony Cunningham photo
Tony Cunningham

Carlisle Conservative MP John Stevenson and Tony Cunningham, Labour MP for Workington, voted against the legislation.

But Copeland MP Jamie Reed for Labour, Rory Stewart, Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP, Liberal Democrat Tim Farron, and John Woodcock, Labour MP for Barrow voted in favour.

Yesterday, before the vote, Mr Farron and Mr Stewart were reported to be undecided on the issue.

But at 4pm Mr Stewart announced on Twitter that he would be voting in favour of the legislation.

Mr Stevenson said that he supported civil partnerships for same-sex couples rather than marriage.

He said: “I believe it gives them all the legal rights that go with marriage. For people of a different sex it is called marriage and it is a different right.”

Ultimately Prime Minister David Cameron got his way and hailed a “step forward” for the country, but the debate saw a division open within the Conservative party.

The House of Commons backed the proposals to allow marriage between same-sex partners by a margin of 400 to 175.

In total 136 Conservatives took advantage of a free vote to register opposition, while 127 endorsed the proposals.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Welsh Secretary David Jones voted against the legislation, while Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and Attorney General Dominic Grieve were not present.

Despite widespread opposition within the Tory party no Government members quit to join a rebellion.

Mr Cameron wrote on Twitter: “I believe MPs voting for gay people being able to marry too, is a step forward for our country.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband also welcomed the vote, saying: “The majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships, however you live.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Marriage is about love and commitment, and it should no longer be denied to people just because they are gay.”

But Tory backbencher Stewart Jackson said: “The only comparable rebellion is the Iraq war vote in 2003 which undermined Blair’s premiership.

“Tonight’s vote will do the same for Cameron.”

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