A Conservative MP who supports same-sex marriage has said he wants Prime Minister David Cameron (pictured) to shelve the idea because it is alienating the party’s core voters.
David Mowat says a former chairman of his constituency association has resigned from the party over the proposal, the Liverpool Daily Post reports.
The Conservative Party, Mr Mowat said, couldn't afford to lose members over this. He said: “I would be pretty happy if the whole thing got dropped.”
Mr Mowat added he was “moderately in favour” of gay marriage, but said that “jobs, growth and the economy” are more important.
He also says he knows of a gay couple in a civil partnership, who are “quite ambivalent about gay marriage, so I think it’s wrong to say it is a touchstone issue for all the gay community”.
Mr Mowat suggested it is dishonest to redefine marriage without having told the voters ahead of the last election.
He said: “It wasn’t in anybody’s manifesto – it seems to have come from nowhere.” He says it would be “more honest” to leave the issue until after the next general election.
In May, Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson became the first Cabinet Minister to openly oppose the plans. Other ministers have expressed reservations.
The Governments consultation on redefining marriage closed last month. It is reported to have received more than 100,000 responses.
A grassroots petition calling for the definition of marriage to remain unchanged has been signed by nearly 600,000 people.
However, Nick Clegg recently indicated that he was prepared to ride roughshod over the public’s views and force a new definition of marriage upon the nation.
Meanwhile Government emails which emerged after a Freedom of Information request show that schools could be forced to teach children about gay marriage if it becomes law.
The emails between officials at the Home Office and Department for Education show one official saying that the issue was a potential “minefield” and wanted “defensive lines to take” in case the press started asking questions.
The UK Government didn't inform the public about the impact on schools when asking people to respond to its consultation on the plans.
Schools are currently under a legal obligation to teach children about the importance of marriage in sex education classes.
If marriage is redefined, schools may be forced to teach gay marriage to children – sparking conflict with the beliefs of many parents and teachers.
Emails sent between unnamed officials at the Home Office and Department of Education discuss the matter.
The emails conclude with a document signed off by schools minister Nick Gibb confirming that teaching about marriage may have to change if marriage is redefined.
David Burrowes MP, who openly opposes plans to redefine marriage, said: “Teachers should be able to exercise their consciences according to their own views on marriage, but that could well be constrained by these proposals.
“As much as I am skeptical about the Government being able to exempt churches from conducting same-sex marriages, I also doubt whether it will be possible to construct exemptions for teachers.
“They would be open to legal challenges. Is the Government really going to order primary school teachers to go against the views of the churches that run them?”
Campaign Director for the Coalition for Marriage Colin Hart said: “We have consistently warned about the unintended consequences of these ill thought out and profoundly undemocratic proposals.
“When we raised these concerns in February they were dismissed repeatedly by the Equalities Minister, who said that her plans would only affect civil marriage, but now these secret internal emails reveal that the Government was completely wrong.”