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Cornwall MP Stephen Gilbert speaks in gay marriage debate

By RWhitehouse  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

Stephen Gilbert MP for St Austell and Newquay

Stephen Gilbert MP for St Austell and Newquay

Comments (22)

A CORNISH MP has spoken of his own personal experiences in supporting legislation to allow same sex marriage.

Stephen Gilbert, MP for St Austell and Newquay, gave a passionate speech in this afternoon's debate in the House of Commons on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

The bill, which is on its second reading, would allow same sex couples to get married but has protections which mean that religious organisations would not be compelled to carry out same sex ceremonies.A vote on the bill is expected to take place this evening.

Liberal Democrat MP Mr Gilbert, wearing a rainbow coloured tie, declared an interest as he started his speech, stating: "I am a gay man who grew up in a rural part of our country, in Cornwall, in a working class background.

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"I grew up 20 years ago in an environment that made it hugely difficult for me to be open, honest and upfront with my family, with my friends, with my workmates about the choices I wanted to make in life and the people I wanted to see.

"That was unacceptable 20 years ago and it is unacceptable today but for many hundreds of thousands of people it remains the case today.

"This historic legislation will end this discrimination but, more crucially, it will send a signal that this house values everybody equally in this country and that signal will deeply affect those people like me who 20 years ago saw this house vote to equalise the age of consent. That was the first time that I had seen that there were other people like me, it was the first time I realised I was not along and it changed my life."

The MP added: "As a community we should be valuing diversity but treating everybody equally. These values are enshrined in Cornwall's motto One and All – it is a community that I grew up in and I am proud to represent.

"It is one that values the community – it is not One and All apart from if you are black, apart from if you are gay, it is a community that distrusts abuse of power which is exactly why the secretary of state is right in saying that this bill will not compel anybody or any religious organisation to do anything that they don't choose to do. We have struck the right balance in ensuring equality and preserving religious freedom."

He concluded: "Equal marriage will not be the end of the struggle for gay equality but it will start allowing us to ask the right questions to solve those other problems. It will send a clear signal that we value everybody equally."

On Twitter Mr Gilbert received many tweets commending his speech:

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22 comments

  • Carolebb  |  February 10 2013, 10:10PM

    Should Jo Wood, journalist for so-called independent media company Cornwall and Devon Media, be proudly admitting on here that she voted Liberal Democrat? At least we now know the political persuasion of the editor of this website - and no doubt the papers they publish too. Not much chance of a reasoned, balanced, fair presentation of news and comment here is there? No wonder so many people are flocking to true independent news websites for the county - I would name them, but no doubt Jo Wood would edit comments out as she normally does. Such bias!

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  • Newquay_Loyal  |  February 06 2013, 11:34AM

    Love the Tories, they get ******ed senseless at Eton & Harrow, yet deprive those openly gay folk rights that they disagree with... hypocrites, the lot of them.

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  • barrtribe  |  February 06 2013, 8:23AM

    Read it again; impliation is still there.

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  • CallingtonFox  |  February 06 2013, 7:05AM

    Barrtribe, of course I am not suggesting anything of the sort;I suggest you re-read it. I ONLY said his electorate would have known his sexual orientation.

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  • barrtribe  |  February 05 2013, 11:56PM

    Ha why is it when people disagree they are phobic and bigoted thats just laughable and un intelelligent. Also Mr Fox are you really implying that he only got voted in because he is Gay and that all his other views are superfluous to his sexual orientation. That his constituents voted him in on how Gay he is not on any of the other views he has on say the economy etc; how very shallow and condecending that is.

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  • Cknocker  |  February 05 2013, 10:48PM

    Josdave, the comment from Pondhu was "did he poll his constituents", if every MP was to poll his constituents and then vote in parliament dependent on the result, this would be akin to a referendum. With regards to how this MP voted, considering his speech, I don't think that you can deny that he voted with his conscience. As to whether he represented the views of his electorate, what makes you think that you know the views of his electorate better than he? Personally from my viewpoint, it is wholly ridiculous that you can have a "civil partnership" and not a marriage. Marriage is not a Christian preserve as every religion in the world has it as well as the non religious. That said I do not believe the government has the authority to dictate to the church who they can or cannot marry - you cannot legislate the views of the church, no matter how much you disagree with them - its quite simple if you don't subscribe to the beliefs of a religion, you cannot practice that religion - as it stands in 25 years time its very unlikely that the Church will have any kind of standing anyway - it is a dying institution.

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  • AnGof2012  |  February 05 2013, 9:58PM

    Jo Wood, I know you are a journalist for this paper and I happen to agree with you. But I regret to say that the forums here are the haunt of extreme right wingers who tolerate very little deviation from their view of a green and pleasant England. They are bigotted and anti gay, Cornish and just about anything else which clashed with their blinkered Anhlo Imperialist views. Thankfully, they are all old and others now reaching maturity have different and more tolerant views. Out, Cornish Nationalist, not a Christian and PROUD!

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  • josdave  |  February 05 2013, 8:21PM

    Who said anything about a referendum I was only thinking it would be a novelty if once in a while an MP voted according to conscience or how they think their constituents would want them to vote. Instead it's always the party line. Just look at what happened when a 100,000+ petition on an EU referendum had to be debated - all three parties brought out the whips and made sure there would be no referendum. That is not democratic by any definition of the word.

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  • CallingtonFox  |  February 05 2013, 7:37PM

    But on this issue, Barrtribe, everyone who voted for him would have known his sexual orientation. Surely that would have given them a clue as to 'what he stood for' on such issues?

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  • Cknocker  |  February 05 2013, 7:18PM

    What do you suggest? A referendum before every commons vote?

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