15th March 2012
Mr B Summerskill
Re: Equal Civil Marriage
Thank you for meeting with me last week. I enjoyed our discussion and I don’t think we were too far apart in our views.
You will no doubt be aware that the government has today published a consultation on how to introduce equal civil marriage. As far as I’m concerned, I completely condemn any form of discrimination against gay couples and believe people should be able to live however they want and make commitments in the manner of their choosing.
I am therefore minded to support this Bill. However, I have also heard the concerns of churchgoers who fear churches will be forced to go against their own beliefs and marry gay couples, or face the possibility of being sued under discrimination legislation. I do not believe the state should prevent gay couples getting married in a church, or elsewhere, if the church is happy to carry out such a ceremony. However, I also believe the state should not force churches into a position where they have to do this if they don’t wish to.
Stonewall recently supported a case against the Christian owners of a bed and breakfast, who refused to give a double room to a gay couple. I would like to know if there are any circumstances under which Stonewall would support a case brought by a gay couple wishing to marry in a church which did not recognise gay marriage.
If I can receive clear and concrete assurances from Stonewall that they will always support religious freedom, including the freedom not to recognise or conduct gay marriage, then I would feel far happier about backing the Bill.
I would appreciate it if you could make your answer as simple as possible. I Intend to publish this letter and your response on my website so that my constituents can see how I arrive at the decision I take on this issue.
David T C Davies MP