One of the things about democracy is that, sometimes, the politician has a choice to make between doing what is right by his constituents and doing what is right by the people of a nation. Burnley Member of Parliament Gordon Birtwistle from East Lancashire had to make that decision.
The Liberal Democratic MP broke ranks with the rest of his Party and voted against a same-sex marriage bill that was backed by the three major parties in Parliament. Most of the time, the political parties in Parliament require their members to vote a certain way. The equal marriage bill was one of those rare instances where the Parties did not require their members to vote one way or the other.
Birtwistle noted that the Catholic priests in his locality were opposed to the bill, as were all but two Anglican ministers and he had even received a five hundred signature petition from a mosque in Burnley urging him to reject the bill. Birtwistle stated to the Lancashire Telegraph that “I have been against it right from the beginning because I believe that’s the view of the vast majority of people in Burnley.”
Most of Lancashire’s MP’s voted in favor of the bill with two other exceptions. Embattled Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans and fellow Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle abstained from the vote due to their positions in the power structure of the House of Commons. Both have expressed their support for equal marriage, however. For Evans, this would be a personal matter since he is openly gay.
Evans has been under investigation for allegedly raping two men several years ago. He maintains his innocence in the matter. The allegations surfaced just a short time before the equal marriage vote occurred, so some have been suspicious of the allegations.
Birtwistle was one of only four Lib Dems to vote against the bill. Former children’s minister Sarah Teather, Sir Alan Beith, and Dr John Pugh all also voted against equal marriage.
The bill still passed and has headed to the House of Lords.