Jan 13 2013 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
RELIGIOUS and political leaders in Harrow have spoken out about same sex marriage proposals due to be voted on in parliament.
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein said his synagogue, which serves Northwood and Pinner, would welcome the proposals and gay or lesbian couples wanting their marriage to be blessed by god.
However, Conservative MP for Harrow East, Bob Blackman, has said he will rebel against the coalition and vote against any changes.
Mr Blackman, who is part of the Westminster Declaration which promotes Christian values in parliament, said: “If this went ahead it would be difficult to promote Christian values in parliament. I also make a point to promote religious values in my constituency.
“Marriage is for man and woman, and for same sex couples there is a legal partnership. It certainly angers religious groups and constituents, many of whom have contacted me.”
Rabbi Goldstein, of Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, said he would welcome same sex couples with open arms.
He said: “This is a huge change for us, as well as a huge surprise. It is what we want, which is the right to be able to perform marriages for loving couples regardless of their sexuality.
“The important point is the distinction it makes between civil partnerships – it will allow gay and lesbian couples to be married in the synagogue and have their marriage blessed by God.”
Gareth Thomas, Labour MP for Harrow West, added: “I believe that same sex couples should have the chance to marry and have their relationship recognised as being of equal worth to other loving couples.”
Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North and a member of the Church of England, said: “What the government should be saying on this is that any priest or rabbi or imam who wants to conduct marriages for gay couples, in compliance with their own church, should be able to go ahead and do so, instead they have put a quadruple lock on the Church of England being able to allow them.
“Change happens and in the Church of England we have moved with some changes, but my views on this go back 35 or 40 years. I have always been in favour of having gay marriage and recognising it in church.”
The equal marriage bill is expected to be published by the government in the next few weeks.