One of Britain’s first openly gay MPs, Ben Bradshaw, has attacked the government’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage.
A former Labour minister, Bradshaw said the gay community does not need the word ‘marriage’ to have equal rights.
He defended these words today (6 April) on Twitter by stating the fight for marriage equality was just ‘semantics’.
Bradshaw told The Washington Post: ‘This is more of David Cameron trying to drag the Conservatives kicking and screaming into the modern world.
‘Of course, we’ll support it, but this is pure politics on their part. This isn’t a priority for the gay community, which already won equal rights with civil partnerships.’
His comments come after 400,000 people have signed the Coalition for Marriage, a petition demanding the definition of marriage is kept as between a man and a woman.
Civil partnerships were legalised in 2005 giving gay couples the same rights as straight couples, but critics such as gay rights activist Peter Tatchall has called such a law similar to apartheid.
Bradshaw, who is in a civil partnership, attacked the media in 2009 for not describing his relationship on equal terms with the Prime Minister’s marriage.
He said: ‘They have also referred to my partner as my boyfriend - did they refer to Samantha Cameron as David Cameron's girlfriend?
‘All partners have shared income rights. The implication is gay people in civil partnerships are not equal.’
Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has said the distinction between gay and opposite sex couples may perpetuate misconceptions and discrimination.
She said: 'We recognize that the personal commitment made by same-sex couples when they enter into a civil partnership is no different to the commitment made by opposite-sex couples when they enter into a marriage.’