A survey of more than half the 40 Catholics in the Government, who represent predominately working class constituencies, showed that the majority supported an opt-out to allow Catholic adoption agencies to turn away gay couples.The Prime Minister was also warned by a senior Catholic bishop to expect a backlash by some of Britain's four million Catholic voters if he refused to grant the opt-out from new gay rights laws, while an opinion poll found the country was evenly divided on the issue.Peter Kilfoyle, the MP for Liverpool Walton, predicted that the threat by bishops to shut their agencies would cause lasting political damage to the Labour Party."This is just yet one more reason not to vote for us," Mr Kilfoyle, a former minister, said."My constituents are not the most enlightened people. They would be viewed by the London liberal tendency that is pushing this agenda as reactionary
"But they are decent people, with decent values, and they do not understand why the Government is doing this. They will react with disgust if any of the agencies do close. We will pay a heavy price and lose votes all over the country."Joe Benton, the MP for neighbouring Bootle, said: "I have strong reservations over this. Nothing has persuaded me that it is right. There should be an exemption for the Church. We are getting ourselves into a terrible mess."Another former minister said: "I am sure a deal will be done behind the scenes that will accommodate both sides. We badly need one."
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