Brighton: Green Party councillor faces expulsion for voting against equal marriage

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It has been recommended that a Christian councillor who voted against supporting same-sex marriage be expelled from the Green group on Brighton and Hove City Council.

Councillor Christina Summers went against party lines in August when the Greens were discussing the government’s plans to introduce equal marriage by 2015.

During a Brighton and Hove City Council debate on 19 July, Ms Summers said: “When you touch marriage, you’re touching family, and you’re hitting at the very heart of God, and I have an enormous problem with that”.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton and Pavilion, spoke to earlier this month about her “disappointment” at Ms Summers’ conduct.

Ms Lucas told this publication: “Of course there is a tradition of conscience and so forth, but we actually made sure all of our councillors signed a pledge around equalities before they stood to be councillor”.

An inquiry panel declared yesterday afternoon that Ms Summers should be expelled – although the final decision will be taken by the group.

A statement from the Green Party said: “The panel does not have the power to expel Councillor Summers from the party or to remove her as a councillor.

“But it has concluded that, in relation not to her speech or vote in the council chamber or her sincerely held religious views but in relation to her breach of her own written undertakings as a council candidate and her recent behaviour towards the party, she should be expelled.”

Ms Summers told the BBC that the Green Party was discriminating against Christians, but the party said it defended free speech and freedom of beliefs.

The councillor, who supports civil partnerships, but not same-sex marriage, said:

“The recommendation to expel me has been made. My fellow Green Party councillors now have to vote on it of course I don’t want it to happen and I don’t agree with it.”

She added: “It’s discriminatory against Christians. It’s a typical symptom of prejudice, blatant prejudice.

“It raises a big question – can Christians serve in the public realm? They are saying don’t bring your faith into politics.”

Ms Summers may now have to serve as an independent on the council.