Dagenham MP says churches should not be forced to hold same sex marriages

MP Jon Cruddas

MP Jon Cruddas - Credit: Archant

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas voted in favour of same sex marriage, but says he will oppose any attempts to force religious institutions to perform gay weddings.

The practising catholic, along with Barking MP Margaret Hodge, was one of 400 MPs to back the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at a second reading yesterday - while 175 opposed it.

As it was approved by a majority, the bill will now receive more detailed parliamentary scrutiny.

If made law, same-sex couples will be able to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies - the latter only with consent of religious institutions.

Speaking today, Mr Cruddas said he accepts the proposed changes, as long as churches are not forced to hold gay marriages.

He added: “There will be those in this coming debate that will try to amend the law and seek to force churches to perform same sex marriages. I will oppose this.

“For me, marriage is a sacrament carried out in church between a man and woman.

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“I do not think that the state can alter this basic fact. Nor should it try to legislate to alter this as it is not in their gift.”

Mrs Hodge said she was proud that parliament had voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of gay marriage. “It is a landmark moment in the fight for equality in this country. When two people love each other and want to make a life-long commitment to one another, it can only be a good thing, for them and for society as a whole,” she told the Post.

“To deny gay couples the same right to marry as heterosexual couples is just wrong. Whoever we are and whoever we love, we are all equal.”

A total of 136 Conservatives opposed the bill. MPs could choose whether or not to vote.