15th March 2012
Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities
2 Marsham Street
Re: Equal Civil Marriage
You have been kind enough to offer me reassurances on two occasions that government plans to allow gay marriage will not have any impact on religious freedom.
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, some churches fear they 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 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission 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 it would be possible for a gay couple wishing to marry in a church, which did not recognise gay marriage, to bring the case to court using existing discrimination legislation.
I would also like to ask directly if the government would commit itself to amending discrimination legislation to protect religious freedom if such a case were ever successfully brought.
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