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Crawley MP will vote against gay marriage

By Crawley News  |  Posted: December 01, 2012

By Chris Ballinger

  • Liam Marshall-Ascough is unhappy at the stance taken by his friend, MP Henry Smith

  • Henry Smith says residents support his position

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CRAWLEY'S MP has defended his intention to vote against gay marriage – a decision which even his own wife doesn't agree with.

Despite the town's significant gay community, Henry Smith is among 118 Conservative MPs who have indicated their unease on the issue.

Speaking to the News, Mr Smith admitted he will be voting against allowing gay marriage.

He said: "I think redefining the term marriage to include civil partnerships would be very offensive to people of faith.

"I have had more than 300 Christians and Muslims write to me from across Crawley with their concerns, with only two or three letters in favour.

"They worry that a redefinition will lead to them having to conduct same- sex weddings in their mosques and churches.

"I think it is important that the rights and views of traditional couples and people of faith are taken into account as well as those of gay couples.

"I have nothing against gay and lesbian couples or individuals. Civil partnerships afford same-sex couples exactly the same legal rights.

"There are going to be differing views on this issue and, not for the first time, I am not in agreement with the Prime Minister.

"My wife thinks differently on this and I have homosexual friends on the borough council who are in favour as well."

Southgate borough councillor Liam Marshall-Ascough, who is openly gay, is "disappointed" at his friend's decision.

He said: "Equality should be there for everyone regardless of their race, gender or sexuality.

"We live in a civilised community and this should only be an issue for the individuals who want to get married.

"There is the choice of a civil partnership but that gives me the impression that gay couples are seen as second class and have to live with and accept separate rights.

"It is as though there are two tiers. One being marriage and the other civil partnership. This is a form of apartheid.

"It is about giving gay people the right to live the life they want."

Mr Marshall-Ascough believes the gay community in Crawley will show their opposition to Mr Smith's stance.

He said: "In recent years the gay community in Crawley has become a little bit more lax. In the past they went out and fought for our rights but we have become very comfortable.

"There is a massive community in the town and I hope to see the gay and lesbian groups in Crawley standing up together on this.

"It is time to show Henry the gay and lesbian communities can be vocal and are as important as any religious group."

Labour borough and county councillor Chris Oxlade has also expressed his shock. He said: "I'm genuinely surprised Henry isn't backing the idea as he has always been an advocate for gay rights.

"This is a genuine drive towards equality."

David Cameron is understood to want to bring forward voting on a Bill, which would allow gay marriage.

Any vote in Parliament would be a "free vote", with no party line.

Is Mr Smith right or wrong? E-mail your views to editor@ crawleynews.co.uk

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

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  • Conservative  |  December 10 2012, 10:58AM

    Owen_R. You can use the biggest, longest words you can find , but it doesn't change the fact that you are a propagandist pushing your argument. And you are absolutely wrong on both of your points, but why would a leftist let facts get in the way of their argument??? You cite Rome, and a short period in Rome's LONG history at that, but if you are going to do that you need to include ALL the facts of that time to give context. At the time in Roman history that you refer to, homosexual emperors were conducting pagan ceremonies between themselves and others. They had also adopted pederasty aimed generally at boys between the ages of 12 to 18. They saw nothing shameful about the sexual abuse of a boy if he was a slave. The point is, they were not conducting Marriages as we recognise them. They were designed to shock, even being 'consummated' in public (which even THEN was not the done thing). At that time in Rome, almost ANYTHING sexual was ok and even included the abuse of animals. So you'll have to forgive me if I don't recommend we take any moral tips from the Pagan Romans of that period. Marriage has always referred to a man and a woman, and what you want to do is change that. What right do this generation have to alter this after 1000's of years? Let's make this VERY clear. This is what you wrote. "the law is clear that churches/temples/etc will not be forced to participate. On the contrary, only those which want to will 'opt in'. This will make it far harder for any civil litigation against a church/temple/etc that does not." You are admitting the truth there. 'Far harder' means you accept that there still will be attempts to sue churches for the 'right' to have a gay marriage service in a church, and I have no doubt the Catholic church will be attacked immediately by the people you are supporting.

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  • AndyStafford  |  December 09 2012, 4:45PM

    The man obviously dosen't have clue about what he's on about and would therefore be advised to abstain. I would consider a vite against as being indicative of a man who has no understanding of the proposed legistlation. I would consider an abstaintion as recognistion of that fact and would still respect him.

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  • Owen_R  |  December 09 2012, 1:33PM

    To "Conservative". You are, unfortunately, wrong. Two problems with what you have said. Firstly, the law is clear that churches/temples/etc will not be forced to participate. On the contrary, only those which want to will 'opt in'. This will make it far harder for any civil litigation against a church/temple/etc that does not. The B&B owners were offering a commercial service, and openly discriminating. However, the ECHR, and so the HRA, not only recognises religious freedom of practice - which covers what happens within a church/temple/etc - but it also fails to uphold any right to gay marriage (only for heterosexual marriage). Adding in that the UK has not ratified the protocol that extend anti-discrimination measures, the chances of a successful suit are slim to none. Besides, no-one will actually sue, any more than women have been able to sue a church for not allowing them to be a bishop. Secondly the word 'marriage' already has more than one meaning. It also has changed meaning when concerning what 'marriage' is. In Rome, there were three different types of marriage. IN the UK, we had 'common law' marriage until the 18thC. Until the 19thC, marriage was effectively about property - a transfer between a father and a husband of the property of a 'wife'; al of a wife's property being legally that of her husband (and not vice-versa) - until reform came in. At around the same time, it became easier to divorce, changing marriage from a 'till death us do part' institution. I mean, the Church of England was founded so that a King could alter the rules of marriage to suit himself without being interfered with by the Church. So the definition has been changing throughout history, and will change in the future. But what gay marriage will not do is to have any effect on anyone else's marriage. Cries of persecution are hollow - you want the freedom to not be offended by what people want. They want the freedom to act that you want to deny them. What do they want to 'achieve'? What you take for granted for yourself - the freedom to get married in a place that agrees to do so. Why should that bother you?

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  • Conservative  |  December 09 2012, 12:39PM

    "In reply to intothevortex, there are many typical anti-religious 'far left wing fascist' misrepresentations of facts here; the Communist dictators would be proud. Nobody is being discriminated against currently. One man and one woman cannot be a 'gay couple'. One man and one man cannot be a 'Married couple'. It is very simple. What is being proposed is a CHANGE to the definition of the word marriage, which currently means a husband and wife, in the same way homosexuals redefined the word 'gay' albeit not legally. The pro-change propagandists are out in force, pushing this forward and the outright 'LIE' that Churches won't be forced to perform these 'ceremonies' is disgraceful. As soon as it is passed, homosexuals will be lining up to sue any religious establishment for breaching their legal rights, human rights, etc. Like they sued the Christian B&B owners who did not wish to open their home to homosexual activity. Christians are being actively persecuted in the U.K. for their beliefs and Cameron should be ashamed of himself."

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  • Conservative  |  December 09 2012, 12:34PM

    In reply to intothevortex, there are many typical anti-religious 'far left wing fascist' misrepresentations of facts here; the Communist dictators would be proud. Nobody is being discriminated against currently. One man and one woman cannot be a 'gay couple'. One man and one man cannot be a 'Married couple'. It is very simple. What is being proposed is a CHANGE to the definition of the word marriage, which currently means a husband and wife, in the same way homosexuals redefined the word 'gay' albeit not legally. The pro-change propagandists are out in force, pushing this forward and the outright 'LIE' that Churches won't be forced to perform these 'ceremonies' is disgraceful. As soon as it is passed, homosexuals will be lining up to sue any religious establishment for breaching their legal rights, human rights, etc. Like they sued the Christian B&B owners who did not wish to open their home to homosexual activity. Christians are being actively persecuted in the U.K. for their beliefs and Cameron should be ashamed of himself.

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  • gmbourne  |  December 09 2012, 7:04AM

    But what does the fact that most people aren't gay have to do with ANYthing, Mr. Swing? As other posters have pointed out, and as you surely know, marriage is a civil institution quite separate from whatever the many and varied religious organizations want to make of it. I honestly don't see what possible harm it could cause to allow same-sex people to enter into a marital relationship. Hopefully, their divorce rate will be lower than it is for heterosexuals.

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  • Conservative  |  December 07 2012, 2:28PM

    I am one of the Crawley voters (not a member of any party) who voted for Henry Smith. I ABSOLUTELY support his position as a practising Christian and you will find most religious people in Crawley, and almost all Conservative voters who elected Henry will support him. There are even many homosexual people who don't want this pushed upon them. Marriage is the word used to describe the union between a man and a woman. What do homosexual people expect to achieve by pushing this 'redefining' of the word through? Homosexual people absolutely won't change the opinions of the religious people. Homosexual people will never be allowed to be 'married' in a Catholic church, or a mosque. The people who 'saw red' and started a campaign I have NO DOUBT voted for Labour at the last election. Of course they will be against this, and I am sure many other things that Henry Smith supports. So what? We had a petition, it is called a GENERAL ELECTION and everyone had the chance to vote, and it isn't rocket science to figure out that generally, Conservatives are not supportive of a change to the definition of Marriage and DESPITE THAT (or perhaps because of that) Henry was elected. Henry works SO HARD for Crawley, please don't allow a vocal minority once again 'shout the loudest' to get their way.

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  • Owen_R  |  December 02 2012, 7:40PM

    The other aspect to this is that some religious groups want to be able to conduct gay marriages, but are not allowed under the current civil partnership legislation. Certainly the Quakers are lobbying to be able to, and support the proposed law. Because it should indeed be up to all religious sects whether they do or don't conduct gay marriage ceremonies. Henry's stance will retain the discrimination against those who do. There is no suggestion that Christian churches would be forced to perform gay marriages in the legislation. If there were, Henry Smith would have a point. But to suggest that this is the case is mendacious. I hope that this is a case of Mr Smith having been misinformed, rather than putting out such fallacious claims deliberately. MrSwing - why does it matter that most people are not gay? The point is, using your suggestion, that some people *are* gay, and want to get married, and if they do, what effect does it have on anyone else? So it's those who aren't in favour who need to 'get over it'. No-one is talking about forcing gay marriage on anyone who doesn't want it. But you are defending forcing a restriction on others, and that should be justified by more than just majoritarian tropes.

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  • MelCdg  |  December 01 2012, 11:21PM

    "I think redefining the term marriage to include civil partnerships would be very offensive to people of faith." People of faith are already offended by gay people. For most people of faith being gay is an abomination. Is Mr Smith suggesting that gay people should be removed from society because we offend people of faith? Laws aren't there to stop people being offended!. Muslims are offended by western women who aren't properly covered up, are we now supposed to pass laws to stop Muslims being offended by western women? Catholics are offended by our abortion laws, are we now supposed to wind back abortion laws because if offends the Catholic faith? Giving gay couples the same rights, dreams and opportunties as everyone esle in society should not offend anyone nor will it affect anyone else. A muslim , jewish or christian marriage are all different to eachother, each religion put different values and rules and ideals on their particular marriage ceremony. They are all allowed and are all legal. Why shouldn't gay couples be allowed to conduct a civil marriage in addition to this? The UK can provide for all without conflict. It always has.

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  • MrSwing  |  December 01 2012, 12:25PM

    Good for him for standing up for what he believes in. Using the phrase that seems to be all over the buses at the moment-most people are not gay-get over it.

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