Breaking news: How Plymouth MPs voted in gay marriage vote
PLYMOUTH MPs backed plans to legalise gay marriage which have exposed deep divisions within the Conservative Party. Tory Oliver Colvile for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport and Labour's Alison Seabeck for Plymouth Moor View both helped the historic proposals clear their first Commons hurdle by a big margin of 400 votes to 175; a majority of 225.
But early estimates showed 126 Conservatives voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill's second reading, while 134 Tories voted against. They included Geoffrey Cox, Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon. Meanwhile, Tory MP for South West Devon Gary Streeter was unable to vote as he is chairing the proposed legislation through committee in Parliament, although it is understood he is against the move. Sheryll Murray, Conservative MP for South East Cornwall, did not vote.
Speaking after the vote, Ms Seabeck said: "It was a really thoughtful sometimes emotional debate with strong arguments being voiced, but in my view common-sense prevailed and the weight of the argument in favour, which was very strong quite rightly, won the day." Mr Colvile said he supported the bill as no faith groups would be forced to carry out ceremonies, and pointed to the ban on the Church of England and the Church in Wales from offering same-sex marriages.
The vote followed more than six hours of impassioned debate on the proposed legislation. Culture Secretary Maria Miller said it would make Britain "a fairer place to live", and insisted religious organisations which did not want to conduct gay marriages had protection. She claimed it was "simply inconceivable" that the European Court of Human Rights would unpick the Government's "quadruple lock" aimed at protecting religions who did not wish to opt-in to the proposals.
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But Tory MPs lined up to condemn the measures, who argued they undermined marriage, would alienate voters and threaten the party's election prospects. Responding to the result on Twitter, the Prime Minister David Cameron wrote: "Strong views exist on both sides but I believe MPs voting for gay people being able to marry too, is a step forward for our country."
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain. "The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love. "Equal marriage builds on Labour's successes in Government which include the repeal of Section 28, equalising the age of consent, the introduction of civil partnerships and changes to the rules governing adoption."