The Irony of Denying Same Sex Couples the Right to Marry

What has been interesting for me watching this three act play unfold is that it really makes you think about what MPs are like as individuals. In matters such as this when their personal beliefs are brought to the fore and when such matters result in division it is very psychologically interesting.

Now, whilst I am no Conservative I must confess to feeling a little sorry for the Prime Minister of late.

After the recent scandal over swivel eyes, the issue of same-sex marriage has been hot on its heels. I feel the alleged Ukip insult about herding cats could easily apply here too. Except the fundamental difference being that these particular cats are quite rebellious and are not afraid to use their claws when necessary.

It is often claimed that the Conservative Party is a broad church. This though has its advantages and disadvantages. With a broad church, the advantage is that you can glean and learn from a wide variety of views. However the Conservative Party has such a broad church, it means that Nick Herbert the openly gay MP has to face Gerald Howarth, who used his contribution to the debate yesterday to talk of "aggressive homosexuals who will want something more than gay marriage."

David Cameron is a Conservative Prime Minister. Many in the grassroots of his party feel that concentration on policies such as gay marriage is wrong in a time of economic austerity and belt tightening.

I believe however that this argument is fudge at best and a cloak for homophobia at worst. I am in no doubt that some in Cameron's party romanticise the world they once knew as less complicated and less diverse. However I would question whether politics is still the right career for them if they no longer recognise the world which they legislate for. It is at least in part a generational difference. For my grandparents such inventions like the mobile phone were alien, and I believe they would have taken a similar position with regard to gay marriage.

We all have to adapt to changes in the landscape of the world we are living in and MPs are no exception to that rule.

As David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham reminded the House of Commons there were similar divisions during the no blacks, no Irish and no dogs era. Some could not see the folly in such a racist and abhorrent culture. Many still fail to see the folly in not allowing gay couples to marry. They talk of the fact that gay couples are provided for under civil partnership legislation. However what this fails to take account of is that it still puts people in the "different" or "other" box. More directly it means marriage being denied to the LGBT population by those who already enjoy marriages.

This is definite salt in the wounds. As David Lammy suggested how can we believe that racial inequality is wrong then allow inequality to persist in another area? This is a paradox and one I personally struggle with.

Many journalists when playing devil's advocate in the media have posited the question that gay marriage is simply unimportant to many people. People say they want to come into politics to make people's lives better. Well, for me to vote in favour of marriage for a same-sex couple provides a golden opportunity to prove that very motivation to be true.

When asked about the question of whether the same sex marriage bill is a waste of time on Channel 4 News Margot James MP suggested that it is perfectly possible for Parliament to do more than one thing at a time. Whilst Nigel Farage may want you to believe that all politicians care about now is gay marriage and wind farms it's simply not true.

A party can also care about more than one thing at a time. A party can also add to the list of things they care about not only reduce them to suit the politics of division and bigotry.

What of religion? Many evangelicals argue that marriage is between one man and one woman. Many parliamentarians have argued this case too. I do not believe that marriage in itself is monolithic. The meaning of marriage will not change as there is no one single definition of marriage.

It worries me that people with this view use it to try to create policy that maintains the status quo. What of gay Christians? Would they subscribe to the view that marriage should be only between one man and one woman? Even if they themselves do not want to get married I doubt very much whether they would support legislation which stood in the way of others doing so.

Protections in the educational sphere were also raised in an excellent speech by Nick Herbert MP. It seems to bring many out in a cold sweat that teachers would not be able to teach that gay marriage is wrong in accordance with their beliefs. Now I like Nick Herbert was under the impression that teachers had always taught syllabuses independently from their personal beliefs. Would a Christian Science teacher for example still have to teach about the big bang? I somehow suspect they would.

What has been interesting for me watching this three act play unfold is that it really makes you think about what MPs are like as individuals. In matters such as this when their personal beliefs are brought to the fore and when such matters result in division it is very psychologically interesting.

MPs are public servants. Their electorate includes LGBT constituents. What saddens me is that amidst all the talk of conscientious objection and conscience is that MPs have allowed their personal views to dictate policy, or at least attempted it. Sometimes in politics I feel you have to rise above your personal beliefs and do what is right. I believe that the time is right to embrace gay marriage. However I believe the time is right to also remind MPs who put them there in the first place. Do not use your personal beliefs to play politics with other people's lives again. Catherine McKinnell admitted to disagreeing with some of her constituents. The issue here is an LGBT electorate who have lived with an inequality for too long and successive governments have prevaricated and fudged over it. I am glad that all political parties in the end united to do the right thing.


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