Sunday Times disagrees with sister paper The Times over allowing gay couples to marry

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The Times made waves last month with a series of editorials backing the Government’s plans for the introduction of civil marriage equality. But its sister newspaper The Sunday Times today backed the gay former Labour cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw saying that same sex marriage is “unnecessary”.

On Friday, Mr Bradshaw was quoted as saying:“This is more of David Cameron trying to drag the Conservatives kicking and screaming into the modern world.

“This is pure politics on their part. This isn’t a priority for the gay community, which already won equal rights with civil partnerships. We’ve never needed the word ‘marriage’, and all it’s done now is get a bunch of bishops hot under the collar. We’ve been pragmatic, not making the mistake they have in the US, where the gay lobby has banged on about marriage.”

Today in an editorial, primarily about Christianity, The Sunday Times said: “It is hard, however, to disagree with Ben Bradshaw, the Labour frontbencher, who accuses the government of playing “pure politics” with gay marriage. He, like most other gays in civil partnerships, is happy to call it a marriage. The further step proposed by the government is, he says, an unnecessary distraction. Mr Cameron is pushing gay marriage and picking a fight with the church for political reasons. It is indeed unnecessary.”

The position of the Sunday Times could not be more distinct from The Times. The Rupert Murdoch owned newspaper became the first national newspaper to support same sex marriage saying: “Despite “criticism from clerical and political opponents”, the paper says the prime minister’s position is “right” and equality would be a “just and wise reform”.

It continued “It would enrich the institution of marriage, enhance social stability and expand the sum of human happiness. It is a cause that has the firm support of The Times.

The Times then published a second editorial, criticising the Church’s approach to homosexuality. It wrote: “Stable, loving gay relationships are no affliction or personal failing. They are a fact of national life, for homosexuals will not again go into hiding, and they enrich the society of which they are an integral part.

“Legislation in 2004 to allow civil partnerships for same-sex couples was not an act of charity.” It argued that the Archbishop of Canterbury “should recognise that gay rights are no longer, if they ever were, an issue on which reasonable people will naturally differ”.

Adding: “They are a matter of human dignity. The State has no business prescribing the content of Christian doctrine; but it has an obligation to enact the social contract, of equality under the law, that binds its citizens. That principle implies full homosexual equality for the same reason that it led in earlier generations to the rights of women to own property and to vote.”

The Home Secretary, Theresa May used an article in The Times to officially launch the Government’s consultation process for civil marriage equality. She wrote: “Our proposals are motivated by the desire to strengthen our society by extending the right to marry. Marriage is one of the most important institutions we have. It binds us together, brings stability and makes us stronger. So I don’t believe that the State should stop people getting married unless there are very good reasons — and being gay isn’t one of them. If we believe that commitment, fidelity and marriage are good things then we should not restrict them, we should let them flourish.”