Bath debate on gays' right to marry
A public debate has taken place in Bath to give people the chance to discuss gay marriage.
The Same Sex Marriage Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament, has divided people, with strong arguments put forward in favour and against.
MP Don Foster, who voted for the bill in its second reading earlier this month, organised the debate to give people the chance to hear the different views and ask questions.
Speaking at the meeting, he said: "Marriage is one of the best celebrations of love and commitment.
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"And I don't see why it shouldn't be available to all regardless of sexuality."
For the debate, held at the Percy Community Centre, in New King Street, Mr Foster was joined by the Rev Kieren Bourne from Living Springs Metropolitan Community Church, who was also in favour of same sex marriage.
Mr Bourne said: "Marriage has been and still is evolving, based on sexual equality, and this is another step in that evolution. Faith should never be used to defend any form of discrimination or prejudice."
Bath City Church leader Stewart Keiller and Bath Abbey Rector the Rev Edward Mason presented arguments against the bill, during the debate, which was chaired by Bath Chronicle editor Lynne Fernquest.
Mr Keiller said: "Marriage for years has been a union of a man and a woman, it is a clear and absolute definition, and I believe it is the bedrock of the family."
Mr Mason, who stressed he is in favour of civil partnerships and gay rights, said he did not think this was a decision that should be made by the Government.
He said: "I am dubious about the right of a government to redefine our understanding of marriage so quickly and without the electoral mandate to do so."