The MP for Boston and Skegness has said he will vote in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry next week.
Conservative MP Mark Simmonds told The Standard: “This is one of the most difficult decisions that I have had to make throughout my time as an MP. It is undoubtedly a complex issue which challenges ideas about traditional marriage.
“I am reassured that no church will be obligated to offer equal marriage to same sex couples, and the legislation will explicitly state that it will not be lawful for the Church of England to marry same-sex couples.
“I have thought about this issue long and hard and, on balance, have decided to take the progressive option. I will therefore be voting for the implementation of these proposals.”
The government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales was officially introduced in the House of Commons by Culture Secretary Maria Miller on January 24 and a full debate by MPs and vote on the proposals will take place on Tuesday.
It has caused controversy among MPs, religious organisations and campaign groups, with only half of Tory MPs expected to vote in its favour.
The bill will not force religious organisations, including the Church of England and Church in Wales, to perform same-sex marriages unless they opt in and will mean no claim for discrimination could be brought against religious organisations or an individual minister for refusing to marry gay couples.
Opponents argue that the bill would ‘redefine’ the meaning of marriage and favour the status quo - where couples can enter into civil partnerships.