DAVID Cameron has said he is “disappointed” a former mayor of Chipping Norton has resigned from his local Conservative Party Association over gay marriage.

Cicely Maunder, 64, “binned” her party membership after MPs voted to back the legalisation of gay marriage in principle earlier this month.

She has also resigned as the West Oxfordshire Conservative Association’s Chipping Norton branch chairwoman because of her Christian views.

Mr Cameron, Prime Minister and MP for Witney, said he was disappointed, but believed gay marriage was an important step forward for the country.

Asked why she had resigned, Mrs Maunder, who lives in Chipping Norton, said: “Because I am a Christian. If you look up the word ‘marriage’ in a dictionary, it is the joining together of one man and one woman to live legally together.

“I am quite happy for gay partnerships and I have no problem with gay people – I have gay friends.

“But pandering to a minority which insists on being equal is the last straw as far as I am concerned.”

She added: “The other point to make is that gay marriage was not in the manifesto and was not in the Queen’s Speech.

“It just popped up from nowhere and delayed important things like inheritance tax and a referendum on Europe.”

The vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was passed with a majority of 225 (400 to 175), but 136 Conservative MPs – almost half the parliamentary party – opposed the bill.

Mrs Maunder, who has worked for the party since 1979 and was made mayor in 1998, said: “I do feel very sad. It was not a decision that I made lightly.”

She said UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage had offered her a job, but said she was “born a Tory” and could not imagine joining any other party.

Mr Cameron said: “I am a strong believer in marriage and I do not want gay people to be excluded from this great institution. However, I know that there are very strong feelings on both sides of the argument and this is why there was a free vote in the House of Commons.

“Whilst the resignation of Cecily Maunder, chairwoman for the Chipping Norton Branch, comes as a disappointment, I voted in favour of these proposals and believe that they are an important step forward for our country.”

Terry Talbot, communications officer for gay event Oxford Pride – who is herself a Christian – said: “If you are going to use Christianity in this issue, there are far more scriptures about judging than about homosexuality.

“I am sad that the ignorance around this issue, which has made me go from married woman in Canada [where gay marriage is already legal] to unmarried here, has not gone away.”