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Oxford MP Nicola Blackwood accused of 'cop-out' on gay marriage
11:00am Thursday 7th February 2013 in News
GAY rights campaigners last night accused Tory MP Nicola Blackwood of weakness after she failed to vote on gay marriages.
Ms Blackwood, a Conservative, abstained from going through the lobbies in Tuesday’s key vote on the same sex couples marriage bill.
The bill passed with an overwhelming majority after 400 MPs voted for it and 175 voted against at its second reading.
But Oxford Pride spokes-man Rafe Jeune, 29, said he was disappointed Ms Blackwood had failed to show constituents her real views.
He said: “I think she’s weak and I think it’s a cop-out.
“I don’t think she really supports the idea of gay marriage. She’s been to Pride events before, so she’s trying to show in public that she supports us, but gay marriage is clearly something she doesn’t support us on.”
Lib Dem Carfax councillor and Oxford Pride committee member Tony Brett said: “I think abstaining represents nobody, and it’s an MP’s job to represent their constituents.
“I would have preferred her to vote one way or the other, although from a personal view of course I would rather she had voted yes. An MP’s job is to be part of the decision-making process. This means the whole of Oxford West and Abingdon has had no voice in this decision.”
Ms Blackwood said: “I made a very specific decision about this vote. I couldn’t reject the bill outright because I have absolutely no problem with gay marriage of any kind.
“But at the same time I do have quite a lot of concerns about the legal implications of the bill and religious freedoms, so I didn’t feel I could vote for or against the bill.”
She said she hoped the concerns she had could be addressed during the committee stage of the bill. Ms Blackwood said her faith had not influenced her decision. She said: “I am a Christian, but that didn’t make me abstain.”
Bishop of Dorchester the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher is responsible for Oxford while the Rt Rev John Ptichard is on sabbatical.
Mr Fletcher said: “Gay marriage raises another series of questions that need to be properly addressed. After yesterday’s vote in the Commons the legislation moves to the Lords and the bishops will, of course, play a full part in that debate.”
Wantage MP and communications minister Ed Vaizey said he was proud to vote for equal marriage.
Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron, Oxford East MP Andrew Smith and Henley MP John Howell also supported the bill, but Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry voted against it. He said he believed the institution of marriage was traditionally between a man and woman and that it shouldn’t change.