Government refuses to rule out using Parliament Act to force equal marriage past the House of Lords

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Culture Secretary Maria Miller has refused to rule out using the Parliament Act in order for the government to get its planned equal marriage legislation for England and Wales on the statute book, if it’s rejected in the Lords.

The Telegraph reports that some peers have already predicted that the bill could be sunk in the upper chamber even if it passes the Commons.

Earlier this month, equal marriage opponent Stuart Jackson MP tweeted: “Gay marriage bill will be massacred in the Lords and govt can’t use Parliament Act as it wasn’t in manifesto. Arrogant Cameron knows best.”

In a statement, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport sought to play down the likelihood of the act being used: “We do not foresee that this will be the case and have no plans to do so,” a spokesperson said.

Any use of the act would be a bold move by the government as it has only been used seven times in the past century.

Despite predictions that almost half of Tory MPs will vote against equal marriage in a free vote, the proposal is likely to secure a majority in the Commons with the support of Labour and Liberal Democrat members.

In a bid to quash incorrect claims about the lack of a manifesto pledge, the Conservative Party’s LGBT group wrote to all 303 Tory MPs in December calling on them to support equal marriage rights for gay couples.

LGBTory Chairman, Matthew Sephton, said: “The Conservatives had a Contract for Equalities in 2010 which was a specific set of pledges on equalities issues, with two pages dedicated to LGBT issues, one of which was to review civil partnerships and same-sex marriage laws.”

Almost 60 Conservative, Labour and cross-bench MPs and peers have signed an open letter against marriage reform.

Meanwhile, David Cameron’s popularity among LGBT voters has risen since he backed equal marriage, according to a poll.