05/02/2013 20:11 GMT | Updated 06/02/2013 08:18 GMT

Sarah Teather Among Four Lib Dems To Vote Against Gay Marriage

The House of Commons overwhelmingly backed gay marriage on Tuesday evening, however much attention has understandably focused on David Cameron's failure to convince a majority of Tory MPs to endorse the move.

However it was not just Conservative MPs who opposed the legislation. Perhaps surprisingly four of the 56 Liberal Democrat MPs also opposed the same-sex marriage bill at second reading - including former coalition minister Sarah Teather.

In a statement, Teather said she was concerned that the definition of marriage was being changed, and that could make family life more unstable.

"I have found this a difficult decision because of my work previously on gay rights issues, and my judgment is finely balanced," she said.

"I recognise that others may reflect deeply on these issues and come to a different view, in good faith.

"But it is my view that where the extra protections offered to same-sex couples are marginal, and where the potential negatives to society over a period of time may be more considerable, I am unable to support the Bill."

The other three Lib Dems to vote against the Bill were Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley) and John Pugh (Southport).

Birtwistle has made no secret of his opposition to the plans, previously telling his local newspaper: “I will vote against gay marriage. Civil partnerships are fine. Gay marriage is just not on.”

And prior to the vote Pugh said the law change "weakens the link between marriage and the family."

A further seven Lib Dem MPs did not vote: Norman Baker (Lewes), Martin Horwood (Cheltenham), Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye & Lochaber), Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West), John Thurso (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross), David Ward (Bradford East), Jenny Willott (Cardiff Central).

Deputy leader Simon Hughes and party president Tim Farron supported the Bill, but defied the whip to vote against the programme motion. Posting on Twitter, Farron said there were issues he wanted to "iron out".