Tory Assembly Members defy Boris's backing for gay marriage
By Adam Bienkov
17 September 2012, 10:00
Three Conservative London Assembly Member have refused to back Boris Johnson’s call for the introduction of civil gay marriages.
Speaking at the London Assembly last Wednesday, Arbour said that the Assembly shouldn’t be used to “rubber stamp” individual’s personal opinions on gay marriage.
“I am abstaining on this motion because I do not believe it is part of the function of the London Assembly to offer an opinion on this matter…Individuals here have long advocated this proposal and I see nothing wrong in them advocating that but what I do not want is to see the Assembly being used as the validation and the imprimatur of your personal testomonies and your personal wishes. We were not elected to express our personal opinions. We are not the decision makers as far as this is concerned and I don’t believe that this is a matter on which the assembly should have an opinion or take a view. We can all deal with this matter elsewhere and I believe that it is this kind of motion and I am afraid that this body and the GLC before it frequently offered opinions on matters over which we have no control and no influence over whatever. Please as individuals go out and advocate your point of view but don’t use the Assembly to rubber stamp those opinions.”
Arbour has previously used his position as Assembly Member to rubber stamp his opinions on union legislation, government sentencing policy and even the cost of plastic bags, none of which the GLA has control over.
The Greater London Authority does on the other hand have a statutory responsibility to promote equality in the capital.
Arbour was joined by fellow Tory AMs Gareth Bacon and Steve O’Connell in abstaining on the motion. Both Arbour and Bacon are thought to be on the hard right of the party.
Earlier this year Arbour caused controversy by claiming that fare rises didn’t matter because most people don’t use public transport. He also once described people living in council housing as “riff raff.”
Two other Tory AMs did make passionate speeches in favour of gay marriage including Andrew Boff who is already in a civil partnership.
The Mayor’s Chairman of the Fire Authority James Cleverly also supported the motion saying that: “I like marriage… being able to distribute the good that marriage does to as wide a cross section of society as possible is a good thing.”
All Labour, Lib Dem and Green Party Assembly Members supported the motion.