By Ann Widdecombe, Daily Express
IT'S said the devil is in the detail and on Monday night the true agenda of the Government’s drive for gay marriage became clear for all to see, for there were three amendments to protect the exercise of conscience, each very moderate in intent and the frontbench guidance was to reject all of them.
In short this Bill is not about liberty and equality but about oppression and state orthodoxy, about Soviet-style persecution in the work place for an opinion given in a private context, about compelling conformity even where conformity is not necessary.
In all 170 Conservative MPs, more than half David Cameron’s party, voted for one or more of these amendments in the course of the evening. One was the so-called Adrian Smith amendment. Adrian Smith, readers may recall, was the official at Trafford Housing Trust who was demoted at work and given a 40 per cent pay cut because he wrote on his private Facebook site that he opposed gay marriage.
The proposed change to the Bill safeguarded the free expression of conscience but ministers opposed it.
They could hardly argue, after the Adrian Smith case, that such protection was unnecessary.
One hundred and twenty seven Conservative MPs, including a Cabinet Minister who had supported the Bill, voted for it in vain.