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Conservative Hendon MP Matthew Offord 'bitterly resents' bigot claims in same-sex marriage debate
Hendon MP Matthew Offord says he “bitterly resents” being labelled a bigot by politicians in favour of same-sex marriage.
The Tory MP became embroiled in a spat with his borough colleague and fellow Conservative Mike Freer during the House of Commons debate.
The pair, previously good friends, fell out over the issue last year and have barely spoken since - and the row was further fuelled by speeches made by both of them yesterday.
Finchley and Golders Green MP Mr Freer, who is in a civil partnership with his partner of 21 years, spoke in favour of the Same Sex Marriage Bill and accused his colleague of comparing gay marriage with polygamy.
Mr Offord, who vehemently opposes same-sex couples being allowed to marry, said in his own speech that he “bitterly resented” the accusation from his former friend. (Scroll down for video)
Speaking today to the Times Series, he said: “I remain annoyed with people who tried to mix up the debate with false allegations – it was dishonest.
“It is a very personal issue for me and having spend many years defending him (Mr Freer) against homophobic abuse it was upsetting.
“I’m not prepared to comment about my relationship with Mike - I’m trying to be fair to him. But I never thought someone who claimed to be my friend would be so immature.”
In his own four-minute time slot, Mr Offord put forward his own reasons for opposing the bill.
The politician claimed it was unfair to allow married same-sex couples to avoid inheritance tax if one was to pass away, when co-habiting siblings would not be afforded the same right.
He also expressed fears that the introduction of gay marriage could lead to the legalisation of polygamy.
Despite receiving criticism on social networking site Twitter, the 43-year-old claimed he had received almost 1,000 emails from constituents opposing the bill, and just 18 in favour.
Speaking in the Commons yesterday, he said: “Marriage as the union of one man and one woman has never changed in thousands of years.
“Equality does not mean that we treat everything the same and we do not have the right to redefine marriage over the heads of our constituents.”
Matthew Offord speaks on gay marriage
Mike Freer's speech on same-sex marriage debate