Hammond: ‘Vast’ numbers upset by gay marriage

The Defence Secretary has criticised the Government for focusing on redefining marriage, and said the plans “upset vast numbers of people”.

Philip Hammond, a senior cabinet minister, warned that same-sex marriage would change the meaning of marriage for millions of people.

And he said there was no big demand for the change.

Focus

Mr Hammond was speaking yesterday on the BBC’s Question Time and said: “I have just never felt that this is what we should be focusing on.”

He said: “This change does redefine marriage. For millions and millions of people who are married, the meaning of marriage changes.”

And Mr Hammond commented that there is “a real sense of anger among many people who are married” about any government thinking “it has the ability to change the definition of an institution like marriage”.

No huge demand

While he supported what civil partnerships had done for homosexual couples, he said there was “no huge demand” for same-sex marriage.

Mr Hammond continued, “we didn’t need to spend a lot of Parliamentary time and upset vast numbers of people in order to do this”.

Philip Hammond has previously expressed opposition to the same-sex marriage plans.

Priority

In January this year he questioned the strength of proposed protections for religious groups.

In May last year Mr Hammond refused to back same-sex marriage, saying that the Government should “focus on the things that matter”.

At the time he added: “Clearly it’s not the number one priority. If you stop people in the street and ask them what their concerns are, they’ll talk to you about jobs and economic growth, they’ll talk to you about the level of the wages they’re earning, wanting to see real growth in wages again.”

Vote

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will be debated by MPs on Monday and Tuesday next week.

At the previous vote in February the Government had to rely on the opposition to get its way.

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