A Conservative election candidate has said that campaigners who opposed the introduction of same-sex marriage are bigots.
Sarah Wollaston, a candidate in Totnes, said she was “proud” of voting for gay marriage after seeing a leaflet by campaign group Coalition for Marriage (C4M). The leaflet informs constituents if their MP voted in favour of the redefinition of marriage.
Her comments have been criticised by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a prominent opponent of same-sex marriage, and Dr Tim Stanley of The Daily Telegraph.
Wollaston made the remarks in a tweet posted on Monday morning.
Responding to the tweet Dr Stanley asked whether she had considered the opposition to same-sex marriage which came from within the Conservative party.
.@sarahwollaston So do you consider the 128 of your fellow Tory MPs who voted again gay marriage to be “bigots”?
— Tim Stanley (@timothy_stanley) April 20, 2015
And Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said that words like ‘bigot’ are often used to “close down discussion” on important issues.
He said: “I think what people should do rather is to set out their argument and what the Coalition for Marriage is doing is setting out the argument that marriage between a man and a woman is a vital social institution for the sake of the good of society”.
The Bishop continued: “This is a perfectly valid argument, if people have something to say against it they should present their argument not close down discussion with words like ‘bigot’.”
He also said that it is to be expected that MPs will face questions on how they voted on gay marriage in the run up to the General Election.
“It was never in the manifestos at the last election, it was never in a Queen’s Speech, the consultation that was produced said that the question was not about whether or when but how”, he said.
He continued: “So all this means that people have questions to answer and they should answer them”.
Traditional marriage support
The Coalition for Marriage is an umbrella group of individuals and organisations in the UK that support traditional marriage and opposed its redefinition.
A petition started by C4M before the redefinition of marriage was signed by almost 700,000 people, including the former Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, as well as Bishop Nazir-Ali.
Colin Hart, campaign director for C4M, said: “The Coalition for Marriage is fully engaged in the democratic process by highlighting the voting record of Members of Parliament on the important issue of the redefinition of marriage.”