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12 Mar 2012

I appeared on BBC TVís Question Time last week at which one of my fellow panellists was pop star Will Young. I think I surprised him, and members of the audience both in the studio in Guildford and watching at home, when I said I had rather changed my mind on this in recent years and I think Iím rather in favour of gay marriages.

 Iíve seen people in civil partnerships, and friends who have entered into them, and it has given them a degree of stability, and certainty, about their future.  I agree with the Prime Minister that society is made stronger by peopleís commitment to one another. Itís made stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. That is true whether the couple making the commitment is a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man.

This Government is rightly committed to advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and has already taken action to do so: allowing those religious premises that wish to carry out civil partnerships to do so, erasing historic convictions for consensual gay sex, and putting pressure on other countries that violate the human rights of LGBT people.

The Government will be consulting on introducing civil marriage for same sex couples shortly and I would encourage all those living in the Brentwood and Ongar constituency with views for, or against, the idea to contribute to that consultation in due course.

It is important to point out that there is absolutely no question of churches or of any other religious institution being forced to host ceremonies for same-sex marriage, or indeed civil partnerships. In fact, the consultation will consider only same sex-civil marriage and not religious marriage.

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