Pembrokeshire's two Tory MPs: Why we voted no to gay marriage
3:51pm Wednesday 13th February 2013 in Milford Mercury news
Pembrokeshire's two Conservative MPs have explained why they voted against their party in last week's controversial vote on gay marriage.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was voted through by 400 to 175, a majority of 225, last Tuesday.
However 136 Conservatives, including Pembrokeshire's Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb, opposed the bill.
MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Simon Hart, said he had voted against the bill because he felt it was not particularly well considered in terms of the law and didn't make a great deal of sense.
"It is not simple and not a particularly straightforward decision," he said.
"In things like this which make such a huge difference to people on both sides of the argument it should have been in the party's manifesto before the election.
"I didn't feel comfortable that we had done things we should have done in the way of consultation," he added.
"We haven't put it in the manifesto, we haven't got consensus from religious groups and churches. I had a huge number of letters from people in the constituency expressing concern and I felt I couldn't go ahead with it."
Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb also voted against the bill saying it would be wrong to force churches to change their beliefs.
Mr Crabb said: "With the exception of Withybush Hospital, this issue has caused more constituents to write me than any other in the last five years. The vast majority have expressed opposition but there is no doubt that those in favour of the Bill represent a growing strand of public opinion. I have considered both sides of the argument very carefully.
"Around a third of all marriages in Britain take place in churches which believe that marriage is between a husband and wife. It would be wrong for Parliament to force churches to change their beliefs.
"But I am not convinced about the safeguards currently in the Bill to protect churches from legal challenge in the future, once the government changes the definition of marriage. Somehow a better balance needs to be struck between equality for same-sex couples and protecting religious freedom."
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