Monday, February 04, 2013

Both the News at Six and the News at Ten on BBC One yesterday began with an item about a letter warning David Cameron against proceeding with marriage equality legislation. This is how it was reported at 10pm -

Mishal Husain: David Cameron is warned that his plans to legalise gay marriage will cost votes at the next election. More than twenty Conservative associations urge a delay to the plans. A Parliamentary vote is scheduled this week.

(other headlines)

Mishal Husain: Good evening. David Cameron has been warned by senior grassroots Conservatives that his plans to legalise same-sex marriage will do significant damage to the Party at the ballot box. Two days before MPs vote on the proposals a letter signed by 25 past and present chairmen of local Conservative associations has urged the Prime Minister to delay the decision. Our Political Correspondent, Carole Walker, has the details.

Carole Walker: They came from the shires on a Sunday afternoon to deliver their protest to Downing Street. These are some of the 25 senior Conservatives who are warning David Cameron that a significant number in his Party will not support what they see as an attempt to redefine marriage.

Geoffrey Vero: It's not a matter of being anti-gay. It's a matter of really considering what is the institution of marriage all about. And for many people - and certainly older Conservatives, as well as younger Conservatives - marriage has been a matter between a man and a woman bringing up - if they are lucky enough - having, and bringing up children.

Carole Walker: Their letter says there's no mandate for the bill. It's been rushed through without proper consultation. And it says resignations from the Party are beginning to multiply and we fear that, if enacted, this bill will lead to significant damage to the Conservative Party in the run-up to the 2015 election.

Carole Walker: Downing Street say there's no question of the Prime Minister backing down. It is a free vote and he accepts that many of his MPs - even some cabinet ministers - will not support the move. But he believes it's time to give gay people the same right as everyone else: to get married.

William Hague: Is it right in principle? And I think it is. Marriage is an institution which is a very positive institution in our society. We shouldn't deny it to people on a discriminatory basis. Is there sufficient public consent for it to be a law that enjoys support? Yes there is.

Carole Walker: Many Tories want the Prime Minister to do more to support traditional marriages. And resentment has been fuelled by the decision not to introduce tax breaks for married couples in the coming Budget. The bill to allow gay couples to marry is likely to get the go-ahead on Tuesday, given the backing of most Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs. But it could face a difficult passage through Parliament which will put further strains on the fractious relationship between the Prime Minister and his party. Carole Walker, BBC News, Westminster.

Anyone relying on BBC One as their sole source of news would be unaware that some sections of the Conservative Party are strongly supportive of marriage equality.

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