Seven amusing and shocking things we learned during the equal marriage debate

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

As the equal marriage bill for England and Wales passed its third reading in the House of Commons yesterday, supporters rejoiced, opponents complained. Some reactions were more bizarre than others.

The Marriage (same sex couples) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons yesterday. MPs voted 366 to 161 overwhelmingly in favour of passing the bill, giving it a majority of 205. It will now travel to the House of Lords for further scrutiny, debate and voting.

Here are just a few examples of the peculiarities inside the House of Commons, and in the wider debate around equal marriage.

Yvette Cooper and Mike Freer revealed that they are massive ABBA fans. Daniel Kawczynski revealed that he is not…


Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Yvette Cooper, made an ABBA and Eurovision-themed speech. Clearly still in the spirit of last weekend’s Eurovision Song Contest, she referenced ABBA and asked what would happen if some members broke into song, and while some joined in, others didn’t.

Margaret Thatcher’s successor as MP for Finchley and Golders Green Mike Freer, interjected to thank Ms Cooper for “taking a chance” on him, referring to the famed ABBA song.


MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham Daniel Kawczynski also spoke during Ms Cooper’s speech to agree with what she was saying, but did not play along with the ABBA referencing game. Awkward.

Daniel eating the ABF Curries

Mr Kawczynski apparently doesn’t like ABBA, but we are relieved to find he likes a good curry.

We learned that while they have differing taste in prospective partners, Chris Bryant and John Bercow share an affinity for floral ties.


Chris Bryant MP and House Speaker John Bercow coordinated their ties in solidarity with the gay community. (Not really but they did wear matching ties. Who do you think tied it better?)

Nick Herbert MP jokingly insulted Chris Bryant’s tie, before having to duck out to go to see a doctor for some eye drops. Not a euphemism.

Chris Bryant and John Bercow (Commons Speaker) should probably call each other in the morning to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

While he might not shop in Topman, as claimed by Mr Herbert, Chris Bryant helped PinkNews report the intricacies of the civil partnerships negotiations, for which we all thought he was a Top Man.

PinkNews has learned that the ties both originated from Durchamp.

Get well soon, Nick.

The openly lesbian Conservative MP Margot James was shocked to find out that Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, is a Freemason.



We have no words, Margot, no words.

David Burrowes MP, told a schoolgirl to “Get over it!”, referring to his opposition to equal marriage. 

Referencing the famous Stonewall campaign “Some people are gay. Get over it!”, and in response to a 17-year-old schoolgirl and PinkNews reader, Mr Burrowes told her where to go, when she asked him to justify saying he was not “anti-gay”, yet was against equal marriage.

PinkNews notes that the last time someone satirised the famous campaign was an anti-gay bus ad campaign, for which adverts read: The banned adverts on London buses read: “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!”


Touche Mr Burrowes, touche.

Sir Gerald Howarth kindly informed the gay community that, in its quest for equality, it had become “aggressive”.

The former Tory defence minister, made the comments during the first day of debate as part of the bill’s third reading. He warned against “the aggressive homosexual community”, which, “sees this as stepping stone to something further”

128 Conservative MPs voted against the bill, including Sir Gerald Howarth.

Phew – THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP SIR GERALD!!! (Oh sorry – perhaps that was a little aggressive).

We learned that former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit, fancied the pants off his brother.


During an interview in which he said David Cameron had “fucked up” over equal marriage, Norman Tebbitt also revealed strong feelings for his brother.

He said: “Why shouldn’t a mother marry her daughter? Why shouldn’t two elderly sisters living together marry each other? I quite fancy my brother!”. Alright then.

We think he might have been hanging around with Jeremy Irons who said something suspiciously similar a few weeks ago.

Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, called a student a “little shit” on Twitter. 


Mr Mulholland received a tweet from a Leeds University student who noted that he had voted for an amendment tabled by MP Tim Loughton, which became known as the “wrecking” amendment for the bill.

In response, Mr Mulholland tweeted: “@Jonathan_Pryor and I am very glad I have never met you Jonathan as you are a disingenuous, manipulate, illiberal little shit! #truth.”

Good hashtag, by the way.

He later released a statement apologising for, and defending his statement, saying he would rather be called a “shit”, or a “wanker”, than a “homophobe”. Fair enough.

(The entire PinkNews team has contributed to this guide)