Conor Burns, a Catholic unionist close to Margaret Thatcher, and a rising star in the Tory Party stated :“I marvel at why we’re bringing this forward; there is no clamour for this at all within the gay community.
“I’m very concerned – and I’m going to need some serious convincing about this – that while the Human Rights Act remains in place we cannot give the guarantees that I would want to see that churches would not ultimately be forced under human rights legislation to conduct such ceremonies.
“I would want, if this bill becomes law, cast iron guarantees that any religious organisation who on religious grounds object to it would not ultimately be compelled to do that.
“And at the moment, given that the Prime Minister came to the House of Commons and said it made him feel physically sick that prisoners would get the vote but there was nothing he could do about it because of that law, that law’s still in place.
“So how can we have those guarantees? Until those guarantees are in place, I have massive reservations.”
Mr Burns said he was hapy with civil partnerships, “My own view on it was that it was absolutely wrong that same-sex couples in committed relationships couldn’t name their next of kin, couldn’t pass on their half of the estate to the other without inheritance tax...all of those discriminations that were deeply offensive to a lot of people were dealt with by civil partnerships.
“I’m a conservative both with a big C and a small c. Marriage is an institution that is the building block of stable society. All the evidence points to the fact that kids who are brought up by a married couple have higher education attainment rates, lower propensity to commit crime; marriage is a force for good in society and I think you need absolutely compelling reasons to want to redefine what marriage means.
“At the moment I am not convinced that those compelling reasons exist.”