By Tim Montgomerie
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As reported widely in today's written and broadcast media a new Tory-led group has been formed to support equal marriage. You can read more about 'Freedom to Marry' on its website.
I should declare an interest. Some months ago I made a conservative case for gay marriage on this website and I've joined the group as one of its supporters. The other initial supporters are listed below:
- Gavin Barwell MP
- Lord Black of Brentwood
- Alistair Burt MP
- Iain Dale, Publisher and LBC Radio Presenter
- Ruth Davidson MSP, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives
- Jane Ellison MP
- The Rt Hon The Lord Fowler PC
- The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
- The Rt Hon Nick Herbert MP (the driving force behind the group and author of an article for The Sunday Telegraph)
- Kris Hopkins MP
- Margot James MP
- Bernard Jenkin MP
- Boris Johnson
- The Rt Hon Patrick McLouglin MP
- The Baroness Noakes
- Matthew Parris, Journalist
- The Rt Hon Nicholas Soames MP
- Paul Swaddle, President of the Conservative Party National Convention
- The Rt Hon Desmond Swayne TD MP
As media outlets have noted the support of evangelical Christians Alistair Burt and Desmond Swayne as well as the Catholic Cabinet minister Patrick McLoughlin is an indication of the group's broad base. More high-profile supporters will be announced in the coming days and weeks.
We have all signed this declaraction:
"1. Our core belief is that marriage is an important institution that
should be cherished and promoted. When two people love each other and
are willing to commit publicly to a lifelong relationship, society is
enriched and strengthened. As such, marriage should be open to all,
regardless of sexuality.
2. We recognise that civil partnerships were an important step
forward in giving legal recognition to same sex couples. But civil
partnerships are not marriages, which express a particular and
universally understood commitment.
3. We feel strongly that religious freedom must be protected. This
means that religious communities should be allowed to conduct same-sex
marriages if they choose, but equally none should be compelled to do
so. The strongest legal safeguards must be put in place to guarantee
4. While the majority of the public, including people of faith,
support same sex marriage, we appreciate that some people have a
different view, including many who are not homophobic but have a
profound religious conviction about the nature of marriage. We believe
that this debate should be conducted in a spirit of mutual respect and
On Friday David Cameron explained why he was backing same-sex marriage and Paul Goodman set out some of his worries about religious liberty.
Yesterday's Telegraph suggested as many as 130 Tory MPs – nearly half of the parliamentary party – would not back equal marriage.