Christian Green councillor’s disappointment with Party

A Christian councillor has spoken of her disappointment as she faces dismissal from the Green Party for opposing gay marriage.

Christina Summers, a member of Brighton and Hove Council, was investigated by the Party after she spoke and voted against a motion in support of the Government’s plans to introduce same-sex marriage during a council meeting in July.

She did so on grounds of her Christian belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.

A disciplinary inquiry panel was set up by the Green Party to carry out the investigation. The panel recommended on Monday that Councillor Summers be expelled from the Party.

Councillor Summers said that although she had still not been formally dismissed yet, it was unlikely that the Party would change its mind following the public announcement of the panel’s recommendation.

The panel has no authority to enact the recommendation, which must instead be put to Green Party Councillors to vote on and ratify.

Councillor Summers said that she was not aware of the panel’s decision until she was contacted by a local reporter.

She said: “It was bizarre to announce the recommendation to the press before any final decision has been made, it caused so much confusion.

“Although it’s a mere technicality anyway because when my colleagues convened the panel in the first place, they already recommended what the panel should find.”

The Green Group of Councillors made the announcement at the end of the Green Party annual conference, a move she said was made deliberately to avoid negative publicity.

“The whole process has been highly irregular,” she continued.. “Lots of things are just wrong about the way they did it.”

She called upon the Green Party to clarify its equality policy as it is “so vague” and “open to abuse”.

“I’m just trying to put forward my biblical, Christian views on issues. The big question is how we define equal,” she said.

Councillor Summers warned that Christian views on issues like the practice of homosexuality were increasingly being labelled extreme and right wing.

“It’s part of a wider issue for Christians,” she said.

“Christians are being pushed out of the public realm, and from the Green basis, they are.”

Whilst individual Christians – and non-Christians – have sent her messages of support, she admitted she felt let down by the collective church.

“I feel huge disappointment that the church has not played its part and stepped into the public domain and argued the Christian corner,” she said.

If her dismissal is made official as expected, Councillor Summers will automatically become an independent councillor.

She said she did not want to second guess the future of her political career but is “listening to what God wants to use me for”.

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) is supporting Councillor Summers, who could seek a judicial review of the decision.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the CLC, said the disciplinary proceedings against Mrs Summers had been “shambolic”.

“Brighton and Hove was the first council the Greens won. They cannot expect to win any more if they continue to suppress diversity and freedom of expression in this way,” she said.

“Councillor Summers’ view of marriage as being the union of a man and a woman is consistent with the teachings of mainstream, historic Christianity. Is the door of the Green Party now closed to Christians?

“The Party has wilted under pressure from its extremist elements and failed to uphold freedom and diversity of opinion at Councillor Summers’ expense.”

A representative of the Green Party was unavailable for comment.