The new Culture Secretary today risked incurring the wrath of the Conservative Party’s right flank with a resounding endorsement of the Government’s gay marriage agenda.
Maria Miller, who is also the Cabinet minister responsible for equality, received a mixed reception as she addressed delegates at the party conference, with younger activists cheering and applauding but older party members sitting in silence.
Some boos were heard as the MP for Basingstoke said: “The state should not stop two people from making the commitment to be married unless there’s a good reason.” She added: “I don’t believe being gay is one of them.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said he could not see what “the fuss” was about as he addressed the issue last night. “Marriage is an ancient human institution that is far older than any of the religions that are practised today,” Mr Johnson wrote in the London Evening Standard.
"It may well be beloved by God, but no religion has ever had a monopoly on marriage,” he added.
Mr Johnson went on: “It has been here since before the Stone Age and now it needs to move beyond the Stone Age. Far from dying out, marriage is on the increase – especially in London. Why on earth would we deny it to anyone?”
The gay marriage plans were opposed by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, at a Coalition for Marriage rally on the fringes of the conference on Monday.
He urged the Prime Minister to have “the courage to back down” and abandon plans to legalise same-sex marriages by 2015.
If they went ahead, the plans could fuel “Nazi” persecution of groups who disagreed with the proposals, Lord Carey claimed.
David Burrowes, the Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, and former Conservative Home Office Minister, Ann Widdecombe, also oppose the proposals.