Harrogate MP Andrew Jones has admitted his vote in favour of same-sex marriage was one of the most difficult decisions of his political career.
He waited until lunchtime Monday, February 4 before making a statement on his website indicating his intention to vote in favour of legalising gay marriage.
Speaking to the Advertiser he said: “I was quite late in deciding what to do but I took the view that marriage is a positive within our society and we should be encouraging more of that commitment.
“But the key factor for me was that the religious restrictions are in place. There were obviously concerns that people had about the Church being forced to do this, but that is not the case.”
Mr Jones said he had received more comments from constituents against the legislation than in favour of it, but he said that was because a campaign called the Coalition for Marriage set up by church groups including the Evangelical Alliance had been organised to lobby MPs.
He added: “This is not about one side having all the right answers, but we should be encouraging more commitment in society.
“But the religious protections have to be there, this was fundamental to my decision, and if they had not been, things might have been different. We cannot trample over people’s rights. We cannot tell religious people what to do.
“In all matters of faith I recognise that faith communities do important work and we are stronger for the work of the faith groups in our community.”
Mr Jones said his decision had been one of the most difficult he had had to make since he became MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough in 2010.
“I never like to make decisions when people are going to be upset by the outcome.”