The use of open intimidation against those who defend marriage as one man and one woman is more common than ever before. In fact, we see examples of this every day. But what happens when that intimidation poisons the entire democratic process, forcing elected officials to support bills they disagree with.
Ministers warned backbenchers that their careers would be ruined if they did not support gay marriage, it was claimed last night.
Angry MPs have written to members of the House of Lords, telling them that the House of Commons did not have a truly free vote last week and that many felt coerced into the decision.
Conservative backbenchers are furious at the pressure exerted by Number 10, ministers and whips to back the legalisation of same sex marriage - which sailed through its third reading thanks to the support from Labour.
A letter signed by 15 Tory MPs said: ‘The main parties announced a free vote but we saw varying degrees of coercion, with threats made, for example, to an MP’s future political career or withdrawal of party support at future elections.’
The letter adds: ‘Regrettably our ability as MPs to oppose, amend or scrutinise this Bill was heavily constrained.
‘The Government presses on without any mandate from a party manifesto. We are all elected representatives by none of us was elected on a platform to redefine marriage.