17/12/2012 09:43 GMT | Updated 31/01/2013 14:59 GMT

Tory MPs 'Wrong' To Claim Gay Marriage Was Not In Manifesto

On Monday 35 Conservative MPs put their name to a letter urging David Cameron to drop plans to introduce gay marriage, as it was not included in the party’s manifesto.

However this is arguably not really true.

On May 3 2010, three days before the general election, the then shadow equalities minister Theresa May launched the Conservative’s "contract for equalities” which included the prospect of changing the law to rename civil partnerships as marriages.

The letter from MPs published in today’s Daily Telegraph argued: "At the last election, none of the three main parties stood on a platform to redefine marriage. It was not contained in any of their manifestos, nor did it feature in the coalition's programme for government.”

The equalities document promoted alongside the manifesto contains a section on civil partnerships.

“We support civil partnerships and will recognise civil partnerships in the tax system.” It said. “Our plans to end the couple penalty in the tax credits system and to introduce a new system of flexible parental leave will apply to all couples, regardless of whether they are heterosexual or same sex couples.”

It adds: “We will also consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.”

In the press statement issued with the contract, May said if the Tories “failed to make progress in these areas and do not deliver on our side of the bargain, then vote us out in five years time”.

Colm Howard-Lloyd, the policy office for LGBT Tories, said the contract, alongside polling that showed public support for gay marriage, represented a "clear mandate" and said he "looked forward to legislation passing early next year".

He added: "The MPs who wrote to the Daily Telegraph claiming there is no mandate for equal marriage are mistaken."

The plan to introduce gay marriage has been deeply divided the Conservative Party. At least 100 Conservative MPs are expected to vote against gay marriage when a Bill is introduced in the New Year.