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Monday 7th May 2012 | 12:20
Petition opposing redefining marriage tops the half million mark
The petition launched by the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) opposing Government plans to redefine marriage has now been signed by more than half a million people.
The petition is already the biggest active campaign in the UK and among the biggest in Europe, having been signed by more people than voted in the local elections in Birmingham or Manchester.
Colin Hart, Campaign Director of C4M, said: "Our campaign is going from strength to strength as the petition passes the 500,000 mark. I believe that its success is down to the half million ordinary people from all walks of life who have united in their opposition to the Government's radical and profoundly undemocratic plans to redefine marriage.
"Changing marriage is not like raising or lowering the rate of VAT. It would have profound implications at all levels of society, and for all age groups.
"Marriage has been the bedrock of society for a thousand years. The Government should pause for thought before they unravel an institution that has served Britain so well.
"In today's turbulent, fast-moving world, the continuity of marriage as a union between one man and one woman is something we should be celebrating, not changing."
"This campaign proves that the British people reject the Government's plans to change the definition of marriage. With half a million signatures, they must listen to their voters."
Highlighting comments and briefings by Ministers and MPs, Mr Hart added that the Government was beginning to accept that its same sex marriage plans were unpopular and were costing it support.
Mr Hart made his comments following an interview by Chancellor George Osborne, who admitted that issues such as gay marriage and House of Lords reform were unpopular with voters and seen as a distraction.
Mr Hart welcomed the comments by the Chancellor and described them as a "watershed moment for the campaign to save marriage".
"Since we launched our campaign just a few ago weeks, there seemed to be a complete disconnect between those pressing for this change and public opinion. This is the first time that the Government now seems to accept they are wrong to try and force through this undemocratic change.
"This is a watershed moment for the campaign. The Government has instigated a consultation on their proposals, saying that the consultation was about how not if. Until now they have refused to listen to those who opposed redefining marriage. I hope that this flawed decision will now be reversed."
A series of polls have correctly predicted the scale of the voter backlash against the Government's proposals.
According to a ComRes survey, which was based on voting intentions for a general election, David Cameron's Conservative Party could lose up to 1.1 million votes, depriving the party of 30 seats. At the same time the Lib Dems would also lose votes and seats.
Andrew Hawkins, the Chief Executive of ComRes, said: "Perhaps the most disturbing finding for Conservative strategists, however, is that SSM plays particularly badly among large numbers of its disaffected 2010 voters.
"People who voted Conservative in 2010 but do not intend to now are 'less likely' to vote for that Party than 'more likely' on the basis of this policy by a ratio of just under three to one.
"In other words, while this policy encourages some 12per cent of former Conservative voters to be more likely to return to the fold, fully 32 per cent say it makes them less likely to do so."