David Cameron’s government has fiddled with the figures resulting from the sham consultation on same-sex marriage in order to announce that a slim majority of respondents support their plans. The Daily Telegraph reports that the government is excluding the 500,000 petition opposing the re-definition of marriage that were submitted during the consultation period, that has since risen to 600,000. At the launch of the sham consultation Lynne Featherstone stated that the number of petitions against same-sex marriage would be ignored, and David Cameron is maintaining that policy.
The Daily Telegraph reports:
The Daily Telegraph understands that MPs will be told that between 52 and 53 per cent of responses to the government consultation came out in favour.
However, the results of mass petitions from both C4M, which is led by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Coalition For Equal Marriage (C4EM), which supports the change, were discounted from the total.
Yet petitions organised by campaigners, in which more than 500,000 people opposed plans to redefine marriage to include gay couples and around 64,000 supported them, have been ignored by ministers.
MPs will be told that the biggest official “listening exercise” ever undertaken on a government proposal found that a narrow majority support the highly contentious move.
This result is based on the responses of around 228,000 people who took part in the consultation earlier this year, the vast majority of whom submitted anonymous online forms to the Government.
In addition, participation was not limited to UK residents despite claims that lobbying groups in the US had been attempting to recruit people to submit responses.
Opponents of the plan have cried foul, arguing that the consultation’s finding of majority support amounted to dishonesty.
David Burrowes, the Conservative MP, said: “If they want to rely on those figures it is wholly disingenuous. It makes the consultation a sham in terms of justifying this on the back of numerical support, given that 500,000 people were ignored and they have accepted all-comers from around the globe.”
He said that support was now so disputed that there was a strong case for a referendum on the subject.
“The Government doesn’t have a mandate to proceed and the consultation raises more doubts and questions about the public support for going forward,” he said. “Different polls have been misappropriated and now the Government is mis-applying its own consultation responses. They don’t have the authority to do this.”
Colin Hart, campaign director for the Coalition for Marriage (C4M), which opposes gay marriage, said: “The decision to ignore a petition of half a million people is disgraceful and undemocratic and goes against assurances from civil servants that all submissions would be treated equally and fairly.
“All those who have signed the petition which the Government has now chosen to ignore deserve to be told why their name on a petition, which includes their address and signature, has been airbrushed out, while completely anonymous internet questionnaires have been counted.”
Details of the Government’s plans will be outlined in the Commons today by Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary.
By the time the consultation had ended in June, more than 500,000 people had already signed the C4M petition, a figure which has since grown by another 100,000. The C4EM has amassed almost 64,000 signatures in favour. The statement had to be brought forward after David Cameron disclosed details at the weekend of a government about-turn on allowing same-sex weddings to take place in churches, synagogues and mosques.
Critics of the move have argued that the change could invalidate the consultation, which was conducted on the basis that there would be a blanket ban on same-sex marriage in religious premises to prevent those who refuse to host such ceremonies facing legal challenges.
Speaking to MPs on Monday, Mrs Miller underlined the Government’s determination to press ahead with the change, insisting that the Government strongly supports the institution of marriage.
She said: “The Government should not stop people from getting married unless there is very good reason — being gay, I don’t believe, is one of them.”
Edward Leigh, the former Conservative minister, called for a new consultation because of the U-turn.
Mr Leigh, whose urgent question about whether there would be a new consultation forced Mrs Miller to make a statement to the House, said the original consultation had “specifically excluded” churches from the proposals.
Protect the Pope comment: David Cameron and the Conservatives are gambling that their core vote will forget that they legalized same-sex marriage by the 2015 General Election and beyond. What they are forgetting is that the series of court cases that they gay allies will bring against Christian churches, schools, and institutions will keep this headline news for years to come. The anger and sense of betrayal will be even more intense among many Tory voters when Cameron attempts to keep his job.