Petition urges MP to support gay marriage

A petition urging Crawley MP Henry Smith to reconsider his decision to vote against gay marriage has recieved nearly 150 online signatures.

It was launched after the MP told the Observer he could not vote for gay marriage because it would offend too many people.

He said he had received 300 letters expressing deep concerns over the proposals but only two or three in support.

Jo Harrison, who set up the petition with Hannah Smyth, said: “When I saw the front page of the Crawley Observer in Sainsbury’s on Saturday, I just saw red. I live in Crawley, support equal marriage and felt Mr Smith was generalising about the views of his constituents. I find it hard to believe the majority of people in Crawley would be distressed by making our society more inclusive.” Jo, of Southgate, wrote on the petition page: “Henry Smith wants to represent his constituency, let’s give him a helping hand in showing that the 300 people who’ve contacted him to oppose equal civil marriage 
are a small-minded minority and that those in favour didn’t contact him because they consider equality to be a no-brainer.”

The petition has received support from Crawley Labour councillors Peter Lamb and Peter Smith as well as Conservative councillor Liam Marshall-Ascough.

Mr Smith said he had received around a dozen letters urging him to support gay marriage in the last week but that most people had supported his position. He acknowledged the petition but pointed out that many of the signatories were not Crawley constituents.

He said: “I am a civil libertarian who believes people should be free to live in the way they want. With rights, I believe, comes a responsibility as well to tolerate other views and respect difference. Given that civil partnerships confer the same rights in law as marriage my concern is, as many people have expressed to me, that redefining the term ‘marriage’ does not appreciate others sincerely held beliefs about what constitutes marriage to them.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said he would fast-track a free vote on gay marriage early in the new year.