Lincoln MP Karl McCartney defiant over his views on same-sex marriage
The MP for Lincoln, Karl McCartney, has defended his controversial comments on same-sex marriage which sparked outrage.
In a letter to one of his constituents seen by the Echo, Mr McCartney wrote that he refused to support the campaign for gay marriage.
He said he believed the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community had "exhausted the cause of equal rights".
The Conservative MP also said that the logical conclusion of gay marriage would be to allow bigamy and child marriage, "uprooting thousands of years of Christian tradition". He also added that his "conscience dictates" that he will not canvas other MPs to support the campaign for gay marriage and that "change is not necessary".
The comments caused uproar from LGBT groups across the country and a petition was launched to encourage Mr McCartney to retract his comments.
But Mr McCartney has since told the Echo that while he is not prejudiced against members of the LGBT community, he stands by his belief that "a religious marriage is one between an individual man and individual woman".
He said: "I strongly feel that society is made stronger by people's commitment to one another and when we make vows to each other.
"I also support the commitment and love between individuals, regardless of their sex or gender, and feel that it should be encouraged, supported and celebrated. I believe civil partnerships do this.
"I do, however, firmly believe that no institution should be forced to perform a 'same-sex marriage' against the will of that institution, whether it be a religious one or otherwise.
"Marriage, in my belief, is widely seen as a religious union and I will always support my long-held Christian and mainstream views on this matter."
The Government is currently consulting on same-sex marriage with a view to legalising it before the next general election in 2015. It has the backing of the leaders of the three main political parties.
Lucy Rigby, prospective parliamentary candidate for the Lincoln Labour Party, said Mr McCartney's views flew in the face of his own political party.
She said: "I thought Karl's letter was offensive, wrong and, to be frank, quite bizarre.
"When you receive a letter like that as a constituent, Karl reveals himself to be a holder of some pretty odd views and, to put it in context, he's even contradicted by his own party.
"People in Lincoln want a sensible and intelligent MP that gets stuff done – they don't want an extremist with these fringe views."
The Trades Union Congress has also hit out at Mr McCartney's comments on gay marriage with Rob Johnston, regional secretary of the Midlands branch, calling for the MP to apologise.
He said: "Mr McCartney's ill-informed comments regarding same sex marriage show bigotry of the worst kind.
"His attempts to link gay marriage to child abuse is ignorant and offensive."
Mr McCartney's full statement to the Echo...
“I am well aware that this issue locally has been organised and orchestrated by some of those within the Lincoln Labour Party.
“I, for one, hold the freedom of speech very dear. A principle my political opponents clearly do not and, in failing to do so, I am saddened that they have chosen to subject me and those dear to me to a torrent of abuse.
“With the next general election up to three years away, the Lincoln Labour Party really need to up their game. Personal vilification and castigation may give them some short-term publicity, but it is no way to run a serious political campaign – maybe some grown-ups being involved might help?
“The Labour Party in Lincoln have now stated that they believe there should be gay religious marriages and that anyone who does not hold that similar view to them is an extremist.
“I would imagine that many people of all faiths, and indeed those of none, in Lincoln and Lincolnshire will take offence at the suggestion that those who oppose the redefinition of marriage are extremists with fringe views.
“While I am aware that a number of people disagree with me, it is clear from both my postbag and the Coalition 4 Marriage petition available at c4m.org.uk , which over 460,00 people have now signed, that a significant body of opinion in our city and up-and-down our country share my views.”