Today marks a potentially historic day for equality, common sense, small state and personal liberty. It is of course, The House of Common’s vote on whether to remove the state’s ban on same sex couples being married. Hopefully, like many countries before us, Britain will embrace equal marriage and stop the state infringing upon the rights and freedoms of same sex couples.
The run up to the equal marriage vote has not been easy, and indeed has been mired in bickering and controversy. The Coalition for Marriage has been accused of falsely misrepresenting MPs, leafleting constituencies and indicating to residents that their Member of Parliament would be voting against the bill, when in fact they would be voting for.
While opponents of equal marriage have claimed the bill is a waste of time, and no one wants it (over 70% of the country support equal marriage) they have certainly spent a lot of time talking about it, standing up in the chamber and mentioning it at any opportunity.
Opposition has mainly taken the (misguided) line that Churches will be forced to perform equal marriages (they won’t), usually by the bogeyman that is the ECHR (several countries that are part of the ECHR have removed the State ban on equal marriage, none have seen their churches forced to perform equal marriage). The reason that equal marriage opponents focus so rigidly on the ‘churches will be forced to perform it’ myth really is because the other arguments against equal marriage are so spectacularly lacking: Marriage is only for those that will raise children (so why can the impotent or those that don’t want kids allowed to marry, or adopt?), Marriage is special, (okay, if it is so great why are you opposed to as many people as possible getting it), Equal Marriage will undermine my own marriage (only if you’re so close minded you don’t like sharing anything with non-straight people) marriage is only religious (well lots of religious institutions want to perform same sex marriages), and, I don’t like gay people (why didn’t you say so in the first place?).
Tory MPs have been the most vocal in their opposition to the legislation; the only people that have harmed the Tory party have been these critics. Yougov polling has shown that the Tories are likely to lose at an upper estimate 1% of the vote due to their support for equal marriage, and are likely to gain at least that according to the same poll. Despite this, many Tory members look set to blow this ‘minor issue’ that ‘no one cares about’ into a Tory party headache of huge proportions. A plethora of Tory party Chairmen past and present have signed a letter asking for the vote to be delayed. Rumors that 180 Tory MPs will vote against the bill including cabinet members, in part due to the decision not to include a marriage tax break, could cause trouble for Cameron.
A few political voices on the bill:
Milton was particularly upset to find that Douglas Carswell MP, a Libertarian, will not be supporting the bill.
Nadine Dorries MP, wrote in ConservativeHome
‘My first concern is that I and many others thought the Bill was intended to make the status of marriage equal for same sex couples (SSC) with regard to heterosexual couples (HSC). The Bill does not achieve this; in fact, it legally patronises SSCs and leaves them unequal in law. I cannot vote for that.
My second consideration is that I am happy to declare my interest in the grubbier side of politics and state that one of my big concerns is for my party and my colleagues, which is why I am writing this on the ConservativeHome website and not in a national newspaper.’
Milton thought Nadine Dorries might say something like this.
Liberal Democrat Gordon Birtwhistle MP for Burnley, had this to say:
“Civil partnerships are fine. Gay marriage is just not on.”
Milton can at least appreciate the honesty…
John Pugh MP – another Liberal Democrat – wrote this:
“The current proposals endeavour to equate homosexual partnerships which are in principle non-child bearing with heterosexual partnerships which are in principle procreative and establish a set of rules for state supported sexual relationships that are blind to sexual orientation,”…”They demonstrably fail to achieve the objective set.”
A letter from George Osborne MP, Theresa May MP, and William Hague MP to The Daily Telegraph – but really to other MPs
Brian Donohoe, Labour MP for Central Ayrshire:
“I am, of course, against any form of discrimination. However, I also believe that marriage is a term used to describe the joining of a man and a woman only.”
Jim Dobbin, Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton:
“The idea to redefine marriage at the present time is unacceptable to me. I do not think the government have thought it through because it will mean massive changes across the board to things such as people’s pensions and how they live. As a practising Christian my views are in kind with my beliefs. It is a simple straightforward view.”
In the other parties
Outside the big parties the BNP and UKIP have both voiced their opposition to the proposals, the BNP’s objection seems to be the standard ‘we hate people who aren’t like us’ (that is after all their USP). UKIP’s seems to be a mix between opportunism – trying to woo disgruntled social conservatives as well as their overwhelming fear of all things EU – in this case on the ECHR, which they believe will force churches to perform same sex ceremonies. It won’t but they don’t let that stop them.
Backbencher Page Editors were asked their view on the bill, and of those who answered, 92% were in favour of the bill.
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