Tory, Labour and cross-bench Peers and MPs say Government is ignoring public ‘opposition’ to equal marriage

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Almost 60 Conservative, Labour and cross-bench MPs and peers have signed up to a new Parliamentary plan to oppose same-sex marriage.

The politicians and former clergymen have signed a strongly worded letter to the Daily Telegraph where they accuse David Cameron and Nick Clegg of “ploughing on regardless” in the face of what it claims was an “overwhelming public response” in opposition to equality.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, announced plans to allow same-sex couples to marry last week. A bill is expected at the end of January and David Cameron hopes to get the redefinition of marriage through parliament by the summer.

The letter inaccurately claims that “at the last election, none of the three main parties stood on a platform to redefine marriage.

“It was not contained in any of their manifestos, nor did it feature in the Coalition’s Programme for Government.

“These facts alone should have led to extreme caution on the part of those calling for this change to be made.”

Although this isn’t actually true. On the 3rd May 2010, the Conservative Party published its equality manifesto- ‘The Contract for Equalities’, authored by the then shadow minister for equality, Theresa May. The document said that a future Conservative Government would “consider the case for for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.”

The letter published in tomorrow’s newspaper said “The Government is ignoring the overwhelming public response against the plans.

“The consultation has ignored the views of 500,000 British residents in favour of anonymous submissions from anyone anywhere in the world.

“We believe that the Government does not have a mandate to redefine marriage.”

The Government says that 53 per cent of those who responded to the consultation said they supported making same-sex marriage equal.

The 500,000 figure claimed in the letter relates to the signaturories of the Coalition for Marriage’s petition. A petition that PinkNews exposed was signed by children as young as 11 after they were promoted it in Catholic day schools.

PinkNews also exposed that people from outside of the UK were able to sign the petition without any problems, reducing the accuracy of the claims made by the politicians in the Daily Telegraph.

The letter was organised by Enfield Conservative MP David Burrowes who said he has faced death threats for opposing equality.

Signatories include Sir Gerald Howarth, Tim Loughton and David Davies as well as Labour’s Lord Anderson and the Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

The group claims to support civil partnerships. The letter says: “We understand some parliamentarians support freedom for same sex couples to marry, but we support a freedom from the state being able to redefine the meaning of marriage.”

Writing for the Telegraph, Mr Burrowes said: “Last week the Coalition Government announced the beginning of the end of the traditional meaning of marriage.

“It also marked the beginning of the Parliamentary campaign which I am leading and supported by a coalition of Parliamentarians across the political spectrum.”

Patrick McLoughlin the Transport Secretary, who was previously understood to oppose same-sex marriage told Sunday Politics on BBC One: “I think you have to make decisions in Government, you have to do progressive social legislation and the voters can take their choice when the general election comes.”

“I took a view that what was being proposed was right, the right move as far as allowing people the freedom to marry.”

A poll for the Mail on Sunday found that 60% of the public support the moves towards equal marriage.