Tim Loughton is the Member of Parliament for East Worthing and Shoreham, and was Parliamentary Under Secretary for Children and Families from 2010 until 2012. Follow Tim on Twitter.
David Burrowes set out the stall for those of us who have opposed the Same Sex Marriage Bill in his excellent piece for Conservative Home on Monday. It remains to be seen whether tentative steps by the Government to introduce limited safeguards against some of the many concerns that we raised in committee about those in public service with conscience objections finding themselves out of a job will actually hold water.
However, there is one amendment to the Report Stage of the Bill which I have tabled for next week around which opponents and supporters of the principle of same sex marriage can all rally. It addresses a real inequality that will be created if the Bill becomes law. A specially commissioned opinion poll coming out over the weekend indicates strong support for the change across the House and outside the House. That change is to extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples.
If same sex marriage becomes law, then gay couples will have the choice either to go for the newly acquired right to marry or to join a new civil partnership or maintain an existing one. Conversely opposite sex couples will only have the option to marry, albeit in a wider range of religious or civil institutions. A Bill which is being pushed through (wrongly in my view) as an equality measure will therefore actually create a new and substantial inequality.