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Archbishop calls for free vote on same-sex marriage

Archbishop Peter Smith (Photo: Mazur/

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark has called for MPs of all parties to be given a free vote on same-sex marriage, saying that if the legislation were to be passed it “would have major long-term consequences”.

The Archbishop of Southwark, who is chairman of the bishops’ Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, said: “The Government’s proposal to change the definition of marriage is a profound legal reform. It is very important that Members of Parliament of all parties should be given a free vote on an issue of such major significance.”

His intervention emerged after Nick Clegg had said that his Liberal Democrat MPs would be directed to vote in favour of same-sex marriage. The Deputy Prime Minister has said that Lib Dems will “honour what we have said as a party”.

David Cameron, on the other hand, has said he will be giving his MPs a free vote on the legislation.

Archbishop Smith added that the matter was an “issue of conscience because fundamental moral questions are at stake about the true meaning of marriage”. He also said that politicians should be “free to express and act on their own principled view”.