330 MPs have confirmed they will vote in favour of same-sex marriage legislation when it is introduced at Westminster later this year according to the Coaltion for Equal Marriage, a grass roots organisation for the introduction of same-sex marriage.
In contrast, just 126 MPs have publicly stated that they remain opposed to a change in the law, making a clear parliamentary majority for equal marriage.
The survey, conducted by the Coalition for Equal Marriage, is based on public declarations of support or opposition from MPs, including letters to constituents.
James Lattimore and Conor Marron, co-founders of the Coalition for Equal Marriage, said:
“We welcome the news that MPs favour the introduction of same-sex marriage by a margin of 3-1 and hope that even more will announce support in time. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are entitled to full equality, including equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. The UK Government has the green light to push ahead with this fair and progressive change which has the support of an overwhelming majority of the public and now Parliament too.”
Key figures from across the political spectrum have said they will personally be voting for the proposals, including the three main party leaders.
The news comes as polling shows increasing support for same-sex marriage amongst the public. A recent poll carried out by ICM for the Guardian in December showed 62% of people in favour, with just 31% opposed. Similar polls for YouGov, Populus, ComRes, and Ipsos MORI have shown consistent public support for a change in the law to allow same-sex marriage.
In December, the Government released its response to the public consultation on same-sex marriage in England and Wales. With over 228,000 responses, it represented the largest consultation ever carried out by the UK Government. Despite a well-funded campaign by opponents of LGBT equality to encourage negative responses to the consultation 53% of respondents voiced support for same-sex marriage while 46% opposed. 72% of respondents who stated they were Christian supported the proposals, alongside 99% of those who identified as lesbian or gay.
The news that a majority of MPs support same-sex marriage was welcomed by politicians, secular groups and religious representatives.
Nick Herbert MP, Founder of the “Freedom To Marry” campaign, said:
“With the polls showing that a clear majority of the public support equal marriage and now evidence that a majority of MPs will back it, too, this is a reform whose time has come. Its opponents should recognise the democratic will and focus on ensuring legitimate protections for religious freedom rather than trying to frustrate a change that is so widely supported.”
Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, said:
“The Labour Party strongly supports same sex marriage. When couples love each other and want to make a commitment, it should be a cause for celebration, not discrimination. Those couples should be able to marry, regardless of their gender or sexuality. My Shadow Cabinet colleagues and I will continue to be loud and proud supporters of same sex marriage, and I’m pleased there is a clear parliamentary majority in support of the forthcoming legislation. Labour votes will ensure that this measure is passed in the House of Commons and we hope the Government brings forward legislation as soon as possible.”
Stephen Gilbert MP, Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell & Newquay, said:
“Liberal Democrats have long fought for equal marriage and now we’re in government we’re committed to making it happen. That a majority of MPs have come out in favour of is a very significant step forward. The right to love and commit to who you chose is a fundamental one and whether you’re straight or gay, the civil institution recognising that love and commitment should be the same.”
The British Humanist Association (BHA) said:
“Equality before the law is a vital civil right and the rights of one class of person to equal treatment should never be compromised because of the unshared religious beliefs of anyone. There is no suggestion that religious organisations should perform marriage against their will; all that is asked is that we all demonstrate some basic humanity and toleration, and do not obstruct same sex couples who wish to have legal equality for their relationship. We hope that the majority of parliamentarians will think the same and vote accordingly.”
The UK Government is expected to launch same-sex marriage legislation for England and Wales by summer 2013. Separate legislation for Scotland has already been launched in December 2012 by the Scottish Government, and already has the support of over two-thirds of MSPs.