A VOTE on same sex marriages, due to take place in parliament today, has split Bolton’s MPs.

Bolton North East MP David Crausby will be voting against same sex marriages, while Bolton West MP Julie Hilling and Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi say they will be voting in favour of the reforms.

The bill would enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales, as long as the religious institution consents It would also allow couples in civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Mr Crausby stressed he was not anti-gay and said marriage and civil partnerships should be equally celebrated.

He said: “Marriage is between a man and woman. Both marriage and civil partnerships should be celebrated — one is not superior to the other — but the legislation will effectively change thousands of years of history, and if marriage is a dying institution, which I don’t think it is, it could damage it further.”

Mr Crausby said that he had voted in favour of lowering the homosexual age of consent to bring it in line with heterosexual age of consent, and for civil partnerships.

He said the vote was a publicity stunt, as neither the Church of England nor the Catholic church would be able to conduct same sex marriages.

“This legislation is neither one thing nor another,” he added.

Ms Hilling said the decision had been very difficult.

She said: “People who love each other and want to make a long-term commitment to each other should be able to marry, regardless of their gender or their sexuality.

“I have spent all of my adult life fighting for equality and against prejudice for all people, and believe that this decision is in keeping with my long-held beliefs.”

Ms Qureshi said she had received correspondence from people on both sides of the argument.

She said: “One of the main reasons for supporting the bill is that it allows religious organisations the freedom to make their own decisions on how they define and solemnise religious marriages.

“This is an issue about rights. It is important for the state and society to recognise and respect commitment in same sex-relationships in the same terms as those between the sexes.”

The Prime Minister is facing the prospect of 180 members of his party, including a significant number of senior figures, opposing or abstaining in the vote, but it is likely to be passed anyway, with the majority of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs supporting it.