Claire Perry, the 49-year-old Tory MP for Devizes, has been accused of being a “contortionist” by backing same sex marriage both ways.
“Tory MP Claire Perry illustrates the painful contortions that ambitious Tory MPs have to perform if they want to pander to David Cameron’s modernising without spooking local voters,” reports the Mail on Sunday.
“So when it came to the Gay Marriage Bill, Devizes MP Perry, voted both ways – or plumped for ‘positive abstention’, as she puts it.
“‘I voted for the legislation as a sign of my personal belief and against as I am not convinced it would be supported by the majority in my constituency,’” the paper quotes her as saying.
There has been some confusion as to the way Mrs Perry has voted or not at all. Marlborough News Online has asked her to make a statement to constituents to explain the Yes and No situation but has yet to receive a response.
She had earlier announced her support for same sex marriage and, living near Salisbury and as a committed Christian, agreed with the new Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, that the law should change.
“It comes down to fairness and I think it is fair to allow as many people as possible to marry regardless of race, colour or sexual orientation,” she later explained.
“Marriage is the bedrock of our society and anything that strengthens it is to be supported and this move will strengthen, not weaken, marriage.
“I reach this view as a practising Christian and it is one shared by our Bishop, the Rev Nicholas Holtam.”
Meanwhile, Bishop Holtam, the only Anglican bishop to promote gay marriage, has been criticised by John Glen, Tory MP for the Bishops’ own constituency of Salisbury.
Mr Glen says he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the Bishop’s decision from a letter he published in the Daily Telegraph last week, and describes him as “a well-intentioned churchman who has done much for deprived communities in London during his career.”
Mr Glen adds: “However, his apparent attempt to place those Christians who seek to uphold traditional marriage in the same category as those who defended apartheid and slavery is deeply unhelpful.
“It will be particularly offensive to those in black majority churches who do not share his view.
“If the Bishop reflects on his visit to the thriving St Paul’s congregation in Salisbury, or the recent Prayer Market event involving eight churches at which I spoke, he would understand that these growing congregations object to gay marriage, not because they object to homosexuals, but because they believe marriage should follow the biblical pattern affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19.”
And Mr Glen points out: “To redefine the institution of marriage will not remove prejudice, but instead risk legal ambiguities and unnecessarily provoke a sense of resentment and isolation among very many Christians.
“If today’s church leaders follow Bishop Nicholas, and allow public opinion to define what they preach, I fear the decline in some parts of the Church of England will be terminal.”