Brighton: Green councillor ‘accountable to God’ in equal marriage vote

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A councillor from Brighton has said she is ‘accountable to God above any political party’ after becoming the only member of the city council to vote against supporting civil marriage rights for gay couples.

Christina Summers is a Green Party politician but declined to follow its longstanding support for equal marriage rights in a vote last week.

Cllr Summers of Hollingdean and Stanmer sits on the Brighton and Hove council which is two-thirds controlled by Greens.

She told the Argus she voted against equal marriage rights because she did not think “disagreeing with same-sex marriage is disagreeing with equality at all”.

She said the decision was not made “off the cuff” and while she had the option to abstain from the vote, she felt she “needed to qualify” that she could not support a motion to lobby Westminster to allow gays to marry in non-religious ceremonies, which had been tabled by a Labour councillor.

She said: “I feel that marriage is about a relationship between a man and a woman together in a relationship and about procreation and family.”

Cllr Summers told the paper: “I’m accountable to God above any political party. Obviously whatever the cost, if there is a cost, then so be it.

“Every political party is a compromise and this was just too serious to me that I had to be true to myself.”

Phelim MacCafferty, the Green Party’s spokesman on LGBT issues and deputy leader of the council said she had a “long standing position of conscience about religious marriage based on her faith”.

The party does not whip its councillors to vote in a particular way and are permitted conscience votes.

He added: “Greens believe she is entitled to hold her view but this does not reflect the position, spirit and track record of the Green Party in extending human and civil rights for all social groups irrespective of sexual orientation or on other grounds.”

He said Cllr Summers’ vote would be subject to a discussion internally.