Maria Miller says gays should be able to marry
‘Being gay is not a reason to stop two people marrying’
‘As a society we have to make sure that gender, sexuality, ethnicity and disability are no barrier to full and equal participation’ Culture Secretary Maria Miller
10 October 2012
Culture Secretary Maria Miller today defied Tory Right-wingers over gay marriage and insisted it is the way forward for Britain.
Ms Miller told the party conference in Birmingham that being gay is not a good reason to stop people marrying. Her unequivocal support will be met with anger by a number of Conservative MPs opposed to the proposal for civil marriage between same-sex couples.
Senior Tory MP Liam Fox has warned that bringing in equal marriage will not be considered “socially acceptable” to the majority of voters. But Ms Miller today argued that “as a society we have to make sure that gender, sexuality, ethnicity and disability are no barrier to full and equal participation”.
Addressing Tory activists in the hall she said: “Five years ago I stood here and told you that I believed in marriage and nothing’s changed. I still believe in marriage. It’s part of the bedrock of our society. The state should not stop two people from making the commitment to be married unless there’s a good reason. I don’t believe being gay is one of them.”
Former defence secretary Dr Fox — a powerful voice on the Tory Right — yesterday told a fringe event: “To ask the majority to change how they define marriage because of what a smaller number want will not be socially acceptable and is likely to undo a great deal of the tolerance that has actually come to the fore in recent decades and that would be a great pity.”
In her speech today, Ms Miller also announced that Olympic athletes will have to do five days of volunteering in schools or sports clubs in order to qualify for National Lottery funding.
UK athletes hoping to take part in the 2016 Rio Olympics will have to sign up to the scheme to mentor children.
She said: “Between them, our inspirational Olympic athletes will dedicate 5,000 days a year to teach, mentor and encourage young people in sport.
“In schools and clubs across the UK our Olympic athletes will be dedicated to helping the next generation shine as they have shone this summer.”
Ms Miller said the Olympics showed that “pride in being British is back”.
But she said that “participation in women’s sport is not where we need it to be” and called for more coverage in the media.
“Who can forget Team GB’s first gold medal of 2012 won by Heather Stanning and Helen Glover,” she said. “Another of the biggest Olympic legacies has been the step change in the profile of women’s sport.
“The Olympics saw coverage increase in leaps and bounds. I want to see that continue because participation in women’s sport is not where we need it to be. An important Olympic legacy will be to help drive up that participation.”