Hundreds of people attended a fringe event opposing the Government’s plan to rewrite the definition of marriage at Birmingham Town Hall yesterday.
Lord Carey, Ann Widdecombe and David Burrowes MP all delivered rousing speeches at the Coalition for Marriage’s rally, the largest fringe event at this year’s Conservative Party conference.
Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, accused David Cameron of plundering the institution of marriage for political purposes.
He warned that introducing same-sex marriage would deepen divisions within society “without giving gays a single right they do not have in civil partnership”.
Ann Widdecombe, a former Conservative MP, said: “This is not an anti-gay rally. It is defending marriage.”
She also turned the tables on those who brand traditional marriage supporters “bigots”.
She warned that the “real bigots” are those “who believe that those who dissent from their views have no right to do so and that the state itself should silence them.”
And David Burrowes, the MP for Enfield Southgate, called for the divisive issue to be put to a public vote.
He warned that while same-sex marriage had not been an issue before the election, MPs’ postbags were now full of the controversy.
“If the Government can think again about pasties and caravans it can certainly do so about the important issue of marriage,” he said.
More than 600,000 people, including a number of MPs, have signed the C4M petition calling for the same-sex marriage proposals to be scrapped.
David Cameron is committed to pushing ahead with the change by 2015.
But Colin Hart, campaign director for the Coalition for Marriage, assured supporters yesterday that the proposals can still be defeated.