Andrea Leadsom: Gay couples should only have civil partnerships, I didn’t like marriage law

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Conservative leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom says she “doesn’t like” the legislation that brought about equal marriage – and would have preferred it if gay couples only had civil partnerships.

Ms Leadsom, the MP for South Northamptonshire, had ‘positively abstained’ on the issue in 2013, voting both for and against same-sex marriage.

In an interview with ITV, the politician said she stood by her vote and “didn’t like” the law – suggesting gay couples should have remained restricted to civil partnerships.

She said: “The love of same-sex couples is every bit as valuable as opposite-sex couples, I’m absolutely committed to that.

“My own view is that marriage in the Biblical sense, from the many Christians who wrote to me, can only be between a man and a woman.

“I don’t agree with them… but what I do think is I would have preferred for civil partnerships to be available to heterosexual and gay couples, and for marriage to have remained as a Christian service for men and women who wanted to commit in the eyes of God.”

When the reporter points out that civil partnerships are not the same thing as marriage, she incorrectly insisted: “Civil partnerships are called marriage as well. Marriages are still marriages.”

Civil partnerships are a separate legal construct from marriage, and have an entirely separate and segregated status governed by the 2004 Civil Partnership Act.

Ms Leadsom continued: “The point is, the concern I had was the potential compulsion for the Church of England. I don’t think that the Anglican Church should be forced down a route where many Christians aren’t comfortable.”

Despite her claim, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act actually places a specific legal ban on same-sex weddings within the Church of England, as part of a ‘quadruple lock’ drawn up in collaboration with religious leaders.

This was discussed at length both inside and outside Parliament at the time.

But Ms Leadsom continued: “The issue I have is around the consequences, and the very real hurt caused to many Christians who think that marriage in the Church can only be between a man and a woman.

“I think we’ve muddled the terms of marriage, civil partnership, church, registry office… I would have liked that to have been clarified.

“I didn’t really like the legislation, that was the problem, but I support gay marriage.”

Ms Leadsom is the only candidate not to have responded to repeated requests from LGBTory about her stance on LGBT rights.

PinkNews reported earlier this week that Ms Leadsom once insisted straight adoptive parents should have priority over gay couples.

In a number of blog posts on her official website, Ms Leadsom called for a system that would give heterosexual couples ‘priority’ in the adoption process.

Raising a case of children put up for adoption in a post from 2009, she wrote: “There’s a truly unbelievable story in the paper today, that a young brother and sister, whose mother is a heroin addict, have been turned down for adoption by their own grandparents, because they are deemed too old, even though neither has yet turned 60.

“If that weren’t enough, the siblings are now to be adopted by two complete strangers against the wishes of the grandparents. Following adoption, they will then be ‘allowed’ 2 visits to their grandchildren each year.

“And as if that weren’t enough, the two strangers are a gay couple, who have been selected ahead of several heterosexual couples.”

In a separate post from 2007 about adoption, Ms Leadsom suggested a ‘points-based’ adoption system that gives preference to “a married man and woman as potential adopters”.

She wrote: “There may be a statistically strong case for preferring a married man and woman as potential adopters, and I would be in favour of a ‘points’ system for potential adopters, that took into account the statistical success rate of their particular profile (e.g. married, divorced, single, gay etc).”

Though she warned against “letting Catholic adoption agencies be exempt from the anti-discrimination laws”, she added: “When you look at the statistics, the Catholic adoption agencies have been very successful in placing children, and this may be to do with the fact that many of the children have been placed with a woman and a man who are in a strong marriage.

“The problem is that we all know that statistics only tell half the story. I certainly know of a gay couple, who, if they had a child, would be wonderfully loving and kind parents.

“If we are serious about putting the children first, rather than wringing our hands over the perceived rights of adults, then we should not rule out any type of family for any reason other than their individual and specific suitability as adoptive parents.

“The rights of gay adults to adopt, and the rights of Catholics to refuse to consider them, should not come into this.”

Ms Leadsom was a Conservative candidate at the time of the posts, but was not elected to Parliament until 2010. She has not raised the issue since.