Amendment to allow civil registrars to opt-out of same-sex marriages defeated by MPs

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

An amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill tabled by Conservative MP David Burrowes, urging for registrars to be allowed to opt out of performing marriages for gay couples, has been defeated in the House of Commons.

MPs voted 340 to 150 to reject the amendment. Those voting with Mr Burrowes included the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes.

Mr Burrowes’ amendment stated: “Any duty of a registrar to conduct a marriage is not extended by this Act to marriages of same-sex couples where a registrar holds a conscientious objection to conducting such marriages”.

Today gay Conservative MP Nick Herbert argued against the amendment: “If it is wrong for a registrar to turn someone away on the grounds that they are black or of an ethnic minority from an application to have their wedding, why would it be right for a registrar to turn away a gay person. That is the the essence of the question.”

Mr Burrowes is a staunch critic of the government’s plans for equal marriage in England and Wales.

He told the BBC today that the same-sex marriage bill had rendered marriage “fairly meaningless”.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has already declared that registrars should not be able to opt out of performing marriages for gay couples because unlike religious ministers they are deemed to be public officials.

The Equality Act 2010 states that it’s illegal to refuse to provide goods and services based upon a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

In January, Lillian Ladele, a former registrar from Islington, north London, lost a case at the European Court of Human Rights.

Ms Ladele had unsuccessfully argued that she should be permitted to opt out of performing civil partnership ceremonies for gay couples because of her Christian beliefs.

There have been numerous amendments tabled to the same-sex marriage bill, including three on the possibility of opposite-sex civil partnerships.

Labour MPs have been threatening to vote in favour of Conservative MP Tim Loughton’s amendment to the Marriage (Same sex couples) Bill that would immediately introduce opposite sex civil partnerships. It is supported by many Conservative MPs who oppose same-sex marriage as it is believed that it could “wreck” the progress of the bill in the House of Lords.

The Labour party has also put forward the Manuscript Amendment, which aims to start an immediate consultation on civil partnerships for straight couples.

It can only be considered if Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller’s amendment for a future review on civil partnerships is approved.

Further amendments will be voted on at 2200 GMT tonight.

The MPs who voted in favour of the amendment were as follows:-

Nigel Adams (Selby & Ainsty), Adam Afriyie (Windsor), Peter Aldous (Waveney), David Amess (Southend West), Steven Baker (Wycombe), Tony Baldry (Banbury), Stephen Barclay (Cambridgeshire North East), Henry Bellingham (Norfolk North West), Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley), Jake Berry (Rossendale & Darwen), Andrew Bingham (High Peak), Peter Bone (Wellingborough), Graham Brady (Altrincham & Sale West), Julian Brazier (Canterbury), Andrew Bridgen (Leicestershire North West), Steve Brine (Winchester), Fiona Bruce (Congleton), Robert Buckland (Swindon South), Simon Burns (Chelmsford), David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate), Douglas Carswell (Clacton), Bill Cash (Stone), Christopher Chope (Christchurch), Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswolds, The), Geoffrey Cox (Devon West & Torridge), Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire), David Davies (Monmouth), Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire), Philip Davies (Shipley), David Davis (Haltemprice & Howden), Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon), Richard Drax (Dorset South), Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford & Woodford Green), Charlie Elphicke (Dover), Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North), Mark Field (Cities of London & Westminster), Dr Liam Fox (Somerset North), Richard Fuller (Bedford), Roger Gale (Thanet North), Sir Edward Garnier (Harborough), Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest), Cheryl Gillan (Chesham & Amersham), John Glen (Salisbury), James Gray (Wiltshire North), Damian Green (Ashford), Robert Halfon (Harlow), John Hayes (South Holland & The Deepings), Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne & Sheppey), Damian Hinds (Hampshire East), Mark Hoban (Fareham), Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Adam Holloway (Gravesham), Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot), John Howell (Henley), Stewart Jackson (Peterborough), Gareth Johnson (Dartford), Marcus Jones (Nuneaton), Chris Kelly (Dudley South), Pauline Latham (Derbyshire Mid), Andrea Leadsom (Northamptonshire South), Phillip Lee (Bracknell), Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford), Edward Leigh (Gainsborough), Charlotte Leslie (Bristol North West), Julian Lewis (New Forest East), Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater & Somerset West), Peter Lilley (Hitchin & Harpenden), Jonathan Lord (Woking), Tim Loughton (Worthing East & Shoreham), Peter Luff (Worcestershire Mid), Anne McIntosh (Thirsk & Malton), Stephen McPartland (Stevenage), Esther McVey (Wirral West), Anne Main (St Albans), Paul Maynard (Blackpool North & Cleveleys), Nigel Mills (Amber Valley), Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot), David Morris (Morecambe & Lunesdale), James Morris (Halesowen & Rowley Regis), Bob Neill (Bromley & Chislehurst), David Nuttall (Bury North), Stephen O’Brien (Eddisbury), Matthew Offord (Hendon), Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster & Fleetwood), Jim Paice (Cambridgeshire South East), Neil Parish (Tiverton & Honiton), Owen Paterson (Shropshire North), Mark Pawsey (Rugby), Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead), Claire Perry (Devizes), Stephen Phillips (Sleaford & North Hykeham), Chris Pincher (Tamworth), Mark Pritchard (Wrekin, The), Dominic Raab (Esher & Walton), John Randall (Uxbridge & Ruislip South), John Redwood (Wokingham), Jacob Rees-Mogg (Somerset North East), Simon Reevell (Dewsbury), Andrew Robathan (Leicestershire South), Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury), Andrew Rosindell (Romford), David Rutley (Macclesfield), Sir Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills), Henry Smith (Crawley), John Stevenson (Carlisle), Bob Stewart (Beckenham), Mel Stride (Devon Central), Julian Sturdy (York Outer), David Tredinnick (Bosworth), Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight), Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West), Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes), Ben Wallace (Wyre & Preston North), Robert Walter (Dorset North), Heather Wheeler (Derbyshire South), Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley), John Whittingdale (Maldon), Bill Wiggin (Herefordshire North), Gavin Williamson (Staffordshire South), Rob Wilson (Reading East), Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth & Southam)


Dave Anderson (Blaydon), Joe Benton (Bootle), David Crausby (Bolton North East), Jim Dobbin (Heywood & Middleton), Frank Field (Birkenhead), Mary Glindon (Tyneside North), George Mudie (Leeds East), Virendra Sharma (Ealing Southall)

Liberal Democrats

Norman Baker (Lewes), Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley), Paul Burstow (Sutton & Cheam), Tim Farron (Westmorland & Lonsdale), Andrew George (St Ives), Duncan Hames (Chippenham), Simon Hughes (Bermondsey & Old Southwark), John Pugh (Southport), Sarah Teather (Brent Central), Steve Webb (Thornbury & Yate)

Democratic Unionist

Nigel Dodds (Belfast North), Jeffrey Donaldson (Lagan Valley), Rev William McCrea (Antrim South), Ian Paisley Junior (Antrim North), Jim Shannon (Strangford), David Simpson (Upper Bann)


Mark Durkan (Foyle), Dr Alasdair McDonnell (Belfast South), Margaret Ritchie (Down South)

Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon (Down North) also voted for the amendment.