A Green Party member of the Brighton and Hove City Council in Sussex has drawn criticism from other members of her party for voting against a motion in support of gay marriage. Councillor Christina Summers supports civil partnerships but is opposed to gay marriage for religious reasons.
“The response to the way I debated and voted against [the motion] has been very vicious, but it doesn’t surprise me because whenever I or any Christian touches on issues of life or identity it does elicit a very, very violent response with very strong accusatory language.”
“At the end of the day those who voted to try to expel me would have had some suspicion about me being a Christian anyway, and coming in [to the party].”
The Brighton and Hove Green Party has convened an inquiry panel to discuss whether or not the situation merits further action. The panel has extended an invitation to Councillor Summers to attend. One of the issues at stake is whether or not Summers compromised the declaration that she signed in order to become a Green Party candidate. The panel cannot remove Summers from the City Council or kick her out of the party. Regarding the possibility of further action, Brighton and Hove Green Party Executive Director Rob Shepherd has stated:
“Should the panel decide to take action, it has a variety of options, including writing to Councillor Summers and seeking mediation between Councillor Summers and those who have expressed concerns.
“It also has a power to exclude a councillor from membership of the Green Group of councillors, effectively making him or her an independent councillor, though still a member of the party.”
This is not the first time that Councillor Summers has felt ostracized for taking what Executive Director Shepherd calls a “position of conscience”. She feels that the reaction to her stated opposition to abortion in the past exposed a “violent prejudice” against her beliefs in the Green Party.