All Welsh Conservative MPs and at least one Welsh Labour MP are reported to be ready to abstain or vote against the government's gay marriage plans. The controversial proposals are due to be debated in the House of Commons later.
Conservative MPs have been given a free vote on the controversial proposals which allows them to vote according to their conscience. Some reports suggest that up to 180 could vote against the plans including some cabinet ministers.
By allowing a free vote, David Cameron avoids a damaging split but such a large number of internal opponents will still be seen as a blow to his leadership and efforts to modernise the party.
The most senior of the Welsh Conservative MPs likely to vote against the proposals is the Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones. When he spoke to ITV Cymru Wales yesterday he would only say that he would be 'voting as a constituency MP'
His deputy, Wales Office minister Stephen Crabb is said to be opposed. Simon Hart, who represents Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, told me that he's sent a letter to all those he's written to saying he'll be voting against the plans. And Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies told me:
– Glyn Davies MP, Montgomeryshire
I made it clear before being elected that I could not support redefinition of the meaning of marriage. I have not changed my position and will be voting against.
Cardiff North MP Jonathan Evans told the Western Mail that he also planned to vote against the proposals.
My starting position is I’m a strong supporter of all the changes that have been made in terms of civil partnerships.
I strongly believe it’s important we should not be discriminatory.
The proposition is one of the redefinition of marriage. I hold the view that was expressed by the Archbishop of York some time ago that for most of my lifetime marriage has been understood to be between a man and a woman – that’s historically what has been.
Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru and most Labour MPs are set to back the proposals. The only Welsh Labour MP thought to be likely to oppose them is the former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy, who's one of a handful of Catholic MPs with objections and the reason why Labour leader Ed Miliband is offering a free vote to his party.
Another area of concern has been the position of the Church in Wales. The Government's legislation prevents single-sex marriages being carried out in Anglican churches but, unlike the Church of England, the Church in Wales is disestablished and was angry at not being consulted about the ban.
A compromise has now been reached which upholds the ban but gives the Church in Wales a means of easily overturning it in the future. A Church spokesperson issued this statement:
Since the Statement to Parliament by the Minister for Women and Equalities on 11 December 2012, the Government has worked to understand and accommodate the position of the Church in Wales in its equal marriage Bill. As a disestablished church with a legal duty to marry the Church in Wales is uniquely placed. The Bill provides protection for the Church whilst still enabling it to make its own decision on same-sex marriage.
Under the Bill, the duty of Church in Wales ministers to marry will not be extended to same-sex couples. However, should the Church’s Governing Body decide in the future that the Church wishes to conduct such marriages, there is provision in the Bill for the law to be altered without the need for further primary legislation by Parliament. Instead, a resolution from the Church’s Governing Body would trigger an order by the Lord Chancellor for the necessary legal changes to be made.