GAY marriage plans have been backed by MPs – with Sussex representatives split on the issue.

The House of Commons backed the legislation by 400-175.

Politicians from across the country spent yesterday debating a bill to allow same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies.

After a lengthy debate which lasted all afternoon, MPs passed the agreement onto the next stage of the law-making process.

Speaking against the bill, Tim Loughton, East Worthing and Shoreham MP, said: “Is the problem not a lack of equality in the law but a lack of equality in society?”

“It should be about equal respect.”

Mr Loughton said the Government had not acted on other inequalities, such as the appointment of women bishops, as it was “simply bad politics”.

He added: “I do not claim that my Christian marriage is any different to a civil partnership.

“We need to get away from the view that we need to have the same to be equal.”

'Important institution'

Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, said: “Marriage is one of the most important institutions in the country “While we have huge sections of society moving away from marriage, here we have one group moving towards it.

“Here we have one section of society that wants to embrace commitment.

“Defenders of marriage should be grateful and opening the doors.”

He added: “I would not vote for this bill unless I believed it protected religious freedom.”

'Momentous occasion'

The bill will legalise gay marriage and enables same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, where a religious institution had formally consented, in England and Wales.

It will also allow couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage.

Conservative and Labour MPs have been given a free vote on the bill but the debate around same-sex marriage has opened up significant differences within the Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said: “While the Conservative catfight over the vote will fade into insignificance, the momentous occasion on which MPs were given the chance to stand up for equality in marriage will be remembered for many years to come.

“However, while I’ll be voting for equal marriage, I’ll also be calling for more far reaching reform to allow everyone – same sex and opposite sex couples – to enjoy a civil partnership or marriage, as they choose.

“This is a question of equal love. It’s not about asking for special treatment for gay couples or straight couples, it’s about everyone enjoying the same rights regardless of their sexuality.”

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