Gay marriage: Leicester and Leicestershire MPs speak on vote
MPs have explained their stances on gay marriage following a landmark vote on the issue.
On Wednesday, MPs voted by a majority of 225 to support the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which would allow gay couples to marry.
Each of the city's MPs – all Labour – voted in favour of the Bill.
County MPs – all Conservative – voted against the bill, except for Alan Duncan, who has been in a civil partnership since 2008, and Stephen Dorrell.
Charnwood MP Mr Dorrell said: "We have had for some years civil partnerships and most people take the view if you value marriage it is an opportunity that should be available regardless of sexuality.
"Many people take the opposite view on the grounds of their faith or ethics and I respect that.
"But this is not about whether they would do it themselves, rather about whether the opportunity should be denied to others in society. I don't think it should be."
Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth said he voted in favour of the Bill because "this is just about giving people equality".
He said: "So long as the safeguards are in place than mean no religious organisations are forced to marry gay people, this is the right thing to do."
Colleague Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West, said: "I believe in equality and if you love somebody and want to make a long-term commitment to them, you shouldn't be prevented from doing that because you are gay."
Leicester East MP Keith Vaz said: "We are all equal in the eyes of God. People should not be excluded from marriage simply because they love someone of the same sex."
In the free vote, 400 MPs supported the bill while 175 opposed it. It is likely to be resisted in the Lords but is expected to become law nonetheless.
Many of those who voted against it said they were lobbied by constituents concerned allowing gay people to wed would undermine traditional marriage.
Some said they had received offensive letters accusing them of homophobia or bigotry.
South Leicestershire MP Andrew Robathan said opposing the Bill was "a matter of principle".
"I resent any suggestion this is homophobic," he said.
"You can't say a heterosexual marriage and a homosexual marriage would be the same.
"I have had a lot of letters from constituents on this – about 130 – and the vast majority were opposed to homosexual marriage."
Harborough MP Sir Edward Garnier said: "For me, marriage is between a man and a woman, not two people of the same sex. It's a simple and straightforward view.
"I have had some very vitriolic correspondence telling me I would be confined to the worst recesses of hell.
"My view is not a moral view, it is not an anti-gay view or a religious view.
"Two people of the same sex can have a relationship but to me that is not what the word 'marriage' means."
Bosworth MP David Tredinnick said he did not feel there was any need to change the existing marriage laws.
Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan said her religious views were one of the factors that moved her to oppose the Bill.
"I am an active member of my church, and the Church of England has been pretty clear on this," she said.
"Marriage has, until now, always been between a man and a woman. I think this is a big social change and it needs more public debate."
The MP said she had received 300 letters from constituents opposing the bill and 24 in support.
North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen and Mr Duncan were not available for comment.