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UKIP councillor quits in Redditch over gay marriage
Updated 9:13am Tuesday 8th April 2014 in Local
A UKIP county councillor representing Redditch has resigned from his post after saying he was "disgusted" by his former party's policy on gay marriage.
Martin Jenkins was elected to Redditch Arrow Valley East on Worcestershire County Council in May last year but has now stepped down from the position saying the UK Independence Party is "on the wrong side of history and needs to move into the 21st century".
"As a libertarian I am a firm believer in freedom and true equality," said Mr Jenkins.
"Instead of seizing the chance to support gay marriage, the party are using EU laws as a reason for not supporting it. So, as the party whose fundamental principle is to take the UK out of the European Union, UKIP is using a scenario that would not exist if it were in power as a reason for not supporting same sex marriage.
"This seems a huge contradiction on their part and it would appear UKIP simply do not support gay marriage, full stop.”
UKIP supports civil partnerships but opposes legalisation of same-sex marriage because of concerns that a law change could mean faith groups and places of worship would be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
"If UKIP made its policy clear that it does not support gay marriage in its current form, whilst we are a member of the EU, but it would support gay marriage under a new set of rules outside of the EU, then the party would have my continued support," added Mt Jenkins.
He also said that an increasing number of public meetings taking place at a time when he was at work meant he found it difficult to represent his constituents.
UKIP enjoyed a surge in the local county council elections in May, 2013 winning four seats in Worcestershire.
Less than 12 months later the party is doing less well in the county as only one of the councillors is still in office. As well as Martin Jenkins' resignation, Eric Kitson, ex-councillor for Stourport-on-Severn, resigned after admitting sharing offensive material about Muslims on Facebook andTony Barker, representing St Marys in Kidderminster, died only a month after taking office.
This leaves only Stuart Cross, representing Redditch South, as a standing UKIP councillor in Worcestershire.
Bill Etheridge, west midlands regional organiser of UKIP, told the Advertiser he was disappointed with Mr Jenkins' decision.
"The party has been firm on the issue since before Mr Jenkins stood for election. We are not saying we are in favour of gay marriage, we are saying that the moment has passed in time and we are moving on. We allow individual members to have their view and have no prejudice against gay people whatsoever," he added.
A spokesperson from Worcestershire County Council said that it anticipates a by-election to fill the vacant seat will be held on the same day as the European and Redditch Council elections on May 22.