Same-sex marriage: Here’s how Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s teams voted on equal marriage

It’s been five years since the UK Parliament voted for same-sex marriage – and here’s how the current Cabinet voted.

MPs were given a free vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which passed its second reading by a vote of 400 to 175 on February 5, 2013.

It remains the last time a free vote was held in Parliament on a major LGBT issue – and is often used as an indicator of politicians’ stances on LGBT equality.

Many of the figures who now dominate British politics were at the time little-known junior ministers or backbench MPs.

So how did the politicians of today vote?


British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo by Dan Kitwood – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Theresa May strongly supported the legislation as Home Secretary, backing then-Lib Dem minister Baroness Featherstone’s attempts to put the issue on the table for the first time.

But Conservative MPs were split on the issue, with more than half casting their own votes against. At the time, such public divisions in the Conservative Party were much rarer than they are today – making the vote one of the only times that David Cameron faced such a large rebellion from his own MPs.

Mrs May’s current cabinet includes many more supporters of equality than opponents – though a number of the Cabinet’s most hardline Brexiters voted against.

Five years on, here is how her Cabinet voted:

MP Role Vote
Theresa May Prime Minister Yes
Philip Hammond Chancellor Abstained
Amber Rudd Home Secretary Yes
Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary Supported – not in Parliament
David Davis Brexit Secretary No
Gavin Williamson Defence Secretary No
Jeremy Hunt Health Secretary Yes
David Gauke Justice Secretary Yes
Greg Clark Business Secretary Yes
Damian Hinds Education Secretary Yes
Michael Gove Environment Secretary Yes
Dr Liam Fox International Trade No
Penny Mordaunt International Development Yes
Matt Hancock Culture Secretary Yes
Chris Grayling Transport Secretary Yes
Esther McVey Work and Pensions Secretary No
Sajid Javid Communities & Local Government Secretary Yes
Brandon Lewis Minister without Portfolio Yes
Karen Bradley Northern Ireland Secretary Yes
Alun Cairns Welsh Secretary No
David Mundell Scotland Secretary Yes
David Lidington Minister for the Cabinet Office No
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Lords Leader Not in Parliament
Also attending cabinet
Andrea Leadsom Commons Leader Abstained
Liz Truss Chief Secretary to the Treasury Yes
Julian Smith Chief Whip Yes
Jeremy Wright Attorney General No
Claire Perry Minister of State for Energy Abstained
Caroline Nokes Minister of State for Immigration No


Jeremy Corbyn (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Jeremy Corbyn (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A lot has changed from 2013 – not least for Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, who has had a meteoric rise from an obscure socialist backbencher to the leader of the Party and a progressive movement in its own right.

Mr Corbyn’s top team includes many more fresher faces than the Conservatives, with a substantial number of Shadow Cabinet members who were first elected in 2015 or 2017 – well after the vote on equal marriage.

Every member of the Shadow Cabinet who was an MP in 2013 voted in favour.

MP Role Vote
Jeremy Corbyn Leader Yes
Tom Watson Deputy Leader Yes
John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor Yes
Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary Yes
Emily Thornberry Shadow Foreign Secretary Yes
Rebecca Long Bailey Shadow Business Secretary Not in Parliament
Jon Ashworth Shadow Health Secretary Yes
Angela Rayner Shadow Education Secretary Not in Parliament
Kate Osamor Shadow International Development Not in Parliament
Keir Starmer Shadow Brexit Secretary Not in Parliament
Richard Burgon Shadow Justice Secretary Not in Parliament
Sue Hayman Shadow Environment Secretary Not in Parliament
Cat Smith Shadow Youth Engagement Not in Parliament
Baroness Smith Shadow Lords Leader Yes
Valerie Vaz Shadow Commons Leader Yes
Jon Trickett
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
John Healey Shadow Housing Secretary Yes
Debbie Abrahams Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Yes
Andrew Gwynne Shadow Communities & Local Government Yes
Peter Dowd Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Not in Parliament
Andy McDonald Shadow Transport Secretary Yes
Nick Brown Chief Whip Yes
Nia Griffith Shadow Defence Secretary Yes
Shami Chakrabarti Shadow Attorney General Not in Parliament
Barry Gardiner Shadow International Trade Yes
Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister for Social Care Yes
Lesley Laird Shadow Scotland Secretary Not in Parliament
Christina Rees Shadow Welsh Secretary Not in Parliament
Owen Smith Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Yes
Dawn Butler Shadow Equalities Minister Not in Parliament

Smaller parties

Equal marriage also enjoyed support from the smaller parties that make up the Commons.

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable voted in favour, as did the few members of his top team who have survived the near-collapse of the party’s Parliamentary base since 2013.

Liberal Democrats Sir Vince Cable and Tim Farron (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Tom Brake, Ed Davey, Alistair Carmichael, Jo Swinson and Stephen Lloyd all voted in favour of equality, while former leader Tim Farron voted a mixture of for and against.

The Green Party’s co-leader Caroline Lucas voted in favour.

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts was not in Parliament, though the two remaining Plaid MPs from the time, Jonathan Edwards and Hywel Williams, voted in favour.

The SNP abstained on the issue, due to separate legislation in Scotland.

All of the Democratic Unionist Party’s MPs voted against the legislation.

Related: It’s been five years since the House of Commons voted for equal marriage.