MP defends vote decision and proposes alternative

Craig Whittaker MP
Craig Whittaker MP

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker has defended his decision to vote against a bill to legalise same-sex marriage last week.

Mr Whittaker’s decision to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has been criticised by many people in the upper Calder Valley.

But speaking to the Todmorden News and Hebden Bridge Times, Mr Whittaker said lots of people in his constituency backed his stance on the issue.

“I have been against this bill for a very long time,” he said.

“My mailbag from people supporting my stance far outweighs the people who are against it.

“But that’s not why I took the decision.

“I took it on my own principles, which is what people elected me to do.

“I will stand by my principles and if that’s not enough for people then so be it.”

Mr Whittaker was one of 175 MPs who opposed the bill, which was backed by a majority of 225 MPs in Parliament.

If it becomes law, the bill will enable same-sex couples, who are currently able to engage in civil partnerships, to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies - the latter only with the consent of religious institutions.

When the issue was debated in Parliament last week, Mr Whittaker proposed an alternative that he believes would be acceptable to the vast majority of people without altering the basic principles of the true meaning of marriage.

His idea involves making civil partnerships open to heterosexual couples and changing the name to something like “state marriage”.

He feels this would be “inclusive”, rather than the “divisive” current bill.

“That way those who want marriage so they can be called married, get their way,” he said.

“That way those who want to maintain traditional marriage for its true intended purpose can keep it.

“That way those who do not want a traditional option of marriage can have marriage under a civil partnership or ‘state marriage’ where they currently cannot

“That way those who believe the church should decide on who they want to marry can allow them to do so.

“Let the churches themselves decide, not the state, and in a fashion where they do not fear reprisals for doing so.

“Everyone should then be happy and the Government can get on at bringing forward plans to help strengthen the family unit so everyone benefits.”

Mr Whittaker has previously outlined his views that the bill in its current form would change the meaning of marriage from being child-centred to adult-centred.

“Marriage is both traditional and radical: it secures well-being and manifest advantage for children born under its auspices and stability for men and women,” he said.

“However, traditional marriage is under threat and has been for so many years. The steady erosion of marriage over the last few decades is a grave social and economic ill.”

He said there is no substitute for the traditional family unit.