Queen's Speech 2012: Gay Rights Groups Disappointed As Same-Sex Marriage Plans Left Out

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Gay rights campaigners have expressed disappointment that long trailed plans to introduce same-sex marriage were not included in this year's Queen's Speech.

Following last week's punishment by the electorate at the ballot box, several Tory MPs urged the prime minister to re-focus his efforts on the economy rather than be distracted by controversial plans to legislate for same-sex marriage and reform the House of Lords.

Among the critics was Tory defence minister Gerald Howarth, who suggested the election losses could be blamed on gay marriage.

“A lot of Conservatives have written to me saying ‘I am a lifelong Conservative, there is no mandate for this, why is this being proceeded with?" he said.

While Lords reform made it in and is likely to dominate much of this parliamentary session, it appears same-sex marriage will not be legislated for straight away.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights group Stonewall, said he was concerned plans for gay marriage legislation would be abandoned.

"We’re disappointed that this modest measure has not been included in the Queen’s Speech. We trust that extension of the legal form of marriage to gay people isn’t going to turn into a 'tuition fees' issue, announced with much hoopla in the run-up to an important election and then abandoned.

"Stonewall will fight on to push both coalition parties to deliver on their promise to implement this measure by 2015."

In March the government launched a consultation on how best to introduce gay marriage and insisted it would proceed with the plans in spite of vocal opposition from some religious groups as well as some Tory MPs.

On Monday Liberal Democrat equalities minister Lynne Featherstone insisted there would be "no U-turn" on gay marriage and it would be brought in by 2015.

“In the aftermath of a tough set of election results for both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, I couldn’t help but notice a few naysayers popping up in the media and uttering dire warnings about a government that needs to concentrate on core issues rather than same sex civil marriage,” she said.

“For goodness sake, it’s not either/or. The economy is clearly the No. 1 priority – but the Coalition can multi-task."

The Home Office said it was committed to introducing gay marriage but a consultation on the issue was not yet complete.

A spokesman said: "We are absolutely committed to introducing same-sex civil marriage and have been clear that we will make any legislative changes by the end of this Parliament.

"There was never any plan to include equal civil marriage in this year's Queen's Speech. Our consultation is still ongoing and it's important we listen to people's views."

State Opening Of Parliament 2012
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