A British bisexual Member of Parliament (MP) has caused controversy in the House of Commons by saying ‘marriage is between a man and a woman’.
Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said during a discussion on humanist weddings that his religious beliefs influenced his decision on whether to vote for same-sex marriages.
He has tabled an amendment that would separate church and faith-based marriage to the England and Wales equal marriage bill.
He implied he would prefer to call civil marriages civil unions, but admitted as the debate has moved on he can no longer do that.
Speaking today (21 May), Hughes said: ‘I believe that marriage is ordained by God. I believe it is traditionally ordained by god to be between one man and one woman… for the creation of children.
‘I believe it was for biological complementarity and gender complimentarily. And that’s why I have taken a traditional Christian and other faith view of marriage.’
He explained he would have, for straight couples, the ability to have a humanist wedding, a civil marriage or civil union and civil partnerships.
‘For same-sex couples I want full equal rights as a marriage, to be called either a civil marriage or a civil union and I want them to have civil partnerships too.
‘It seems to me the issue the house hasn’t wrestled with, and my new clause is seeking to do, is whether it wouldn’t be better to seek to address this need to separate for these purposes the faith and belief of people of faith who believe marriage is something ordained by God and the civic responsibility of the state to provide a place where people can come together and perform that ceremony in the eyes of the law.’
Hughes added: ‘I also believe that two men or two women can have a relationship that mirrors that between a man and a woman but is not identical. So I believe we should have separate institutions that reflects that.
‘We should as a country give equal rights to gay and straight couples but they are not going to be the same as the traditional marriage between a man and a woman.’
Hughes is deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats who, together with their coalition government partners, the Conservatives, are pushing plans for full marriage equality in England and Wales.
The House of Commons is about to vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) bill. If it passes, it will go to the House of Lords for further discussion.