A survey of British MPs suggests there is overwhelming support for government plans to enact marriage equality.
It shows opinion running 4-1 in favour of the Government’s proposal to bring in same-sex civil marriage. Despite vocal opposition from many Conservatives, it found the number of Tory MPs who have declared support for the plan (63) outnumber those against it (44).
The rolling survey is being compiled by the Coalition for Equal Marriage, which is lobbying for the change. It is based on public comments by MPs, petitions they have signed in favour and against gay marriage and letters written to constituents who asked them for their view. Tory opponents of same-sex marriage claim their numbers will grow after Downing Street made clear that David Cameron will allow a free vote when it goes before the Commons. But the survey suggests strong support among Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs will ensure the move is approved.
The running total shows 233 MPs have come out in favour of gay marriage and 56 against, with 15 undecided and the views of the remaining 346 MPs not known. So far, 133 Labour MPs back the change, while five oppose it. Some 33 Liberal Democrats endorse it and none has yet come out against it.
This comes shortly after the release of a YouGov poll that found some 71% of Britons favor marriage equality. The legislation would not in fact allow for church marriages, but a majority in the poll also responded in favor of allowing churches to preside over same-sex weddings if they wished to do so.
Unfortunately, this news also coincides with the Church of England issuing a statement reiterating its opposition to marriage equality plans and declaring that the issue will mark the unpicking of religion from the State. It also warns that the Church will be vulnerable to the European Court of Human Rights forcing it to officiate same-sex weddings. Legal commentators have noted this is likely not true, pointing out that the ECHR has given great deference to religious exemptions on the marriage equality question but admitting there is a reasonable chance the court might rule that pro-LGBT churches should be allowed the right to preside over same-sex weddings if they so choose.
The British consultation on marriage equality ends this week.