UK: Labour to make equal marriage a whipped vote

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more. understands Labour is likely to whip its MPs when it comes to supporting the government’s policy of equal civil marriage rights for gay couples.

Unlike their Conservative counterparts, who have already been promised a free vote, Labour is following the option of the Lib Dems, by invoking a three-line Commons whip.

It means Labour MPs such as Jim Dobbin, Joe Benton and Mary Glindon, who have already signalled their public opposition to marriage equality, risk potential disciplinary action if they go against party lines and pass through the no lobby.

In an Out4Marriage video released today, Labour leader Ed Miliband urged the coalition to go further in its current commitment to introduce the measure before the end of current parliament in 2015.

Mr Miliband said faith groups that want to provide same-sex marriage ceremonies “should be able to do so”.

He urged the government “to get on with the process of legislating for equal marriage”.

In July of this year, Prime Minister David Cameron gave a strong indication that he personally supports giving churches and other religious institutions the right to hold same-sex wedding ceremonies.

Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also said that churches should not be “banned” from the measure in August and cited how it was his party’s policy – although Mr Clegg stressed that he was not speaking on behalf of the government.

In order to counter large-scale hostility from Catholic and Anglican leaders, ministers have repeatedly stressed the current proposals are aimed at the “civil” definition of marriage – whilst not explicitly ruling out legalising religious same-sex weddings.

The government will issue its official response to this year’s equal marriage public consultation before Christmas.