Marriage Equality Vote Costs Conservative MP a Trip to Australia

Earlier this month, the British House of Commons overwhelmingly approved a marriage equality bill for England and Wales on its second reading. (After additional legislative review and a third reading, the bill will go to the House of Lords).  Prime Minister David Cameron pushed for marriage equality over the objections of church leaders and many in his Conservative Party.

One who did vote for the marriage bill is the conservative Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions secretary. Smith, a Catholic, had been expected to abstain, but reportedly voted for the measure out of loyalty to Cameron.  Smith was quickly un-invited as a keynote speaker at the seventh World Congress of Families conference, which is scheduled for Sydney, Australia in May. The letter telling Smith he was no longer welcome says the bill he supported “is at odds with the World Congress of Families’ definition of the natural family, marriage, and a child’s right to be raised by its mother and father.”

The World Congress of Families is one vehicle by which American religious conservatives export their anti-abortion and anti-gay-rights ideologies (or as they would put it, their support for the natural family)  abroad. Peter LaBarbera and his Americans for Truth About Homosexuality are among the WCF’s partner groups, a who’s who of anti-gay and anti-choice organizations.

For more on the WCF, see Gillian Kane’s Religion Dispatches report on last year’s conference in Madrid and her report for Public Eye on the previous conference in Amsterdam. 

Peter Montgomery, an associate editor for Religion Dispatches, is a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way Foundation where he was on staff for 15 years. Before that he was associate director of grassroots lobbying for Common Cause and wrote for Common Cause Magazine, an award-winning journal featuring investigative reporting about the federal government.