It is Time for Equal Marriage Rights for All
Today the House of Commons will vote on whether to allow same sex couples to enjoy equal rights to civil marriage as straight couples. There has been much wailing and protesting, mainly from church groups who have conducted a well organised letter writing campaign to Members of Parliament. Some will undoubtedly be concerned at this apparent outburst of anger among normally docile constituents but they should also be mindful of opinion polls which consistently show significant majority support for same sex marriage.
Many MPs have already publicly declared their voting intention with pro’s and anti’s in each of the three major parties. Only the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland seems to be united against the plans. The Conservative Party (as the name implies) has a higher percentage of anti’s than the other major parties but Prime Minister David Cameron is a strong supporter as is a significant majority of senior Conservative Cabinet members and Government members. The main body of Conservative anti’s is on the backbenches. More surprising is a significant minority of Labour anti’s and one or two Lib Dem MPs.
In my view the State should not maintain a position that two adults of the same sex who love eachother may not marry. Marriage has evolved over the centuries and in the twenty first century it is time to extend the right to civil marriage to gay couples. I perfectly understand that some religious groups want to have safeguards which ensure that they should not be forced to conduct same sex marriages in their places of worship if they object on doctrinal grounds. However, those religious organisations that wish to conduct same sex marriages should be permitted to do so.
This is a matter of conscience for MPs and therefore the Whips have been held heck as MPs decide how to vote according to their own consciences. The Parliamentary maths indicates that the measure will pass with a substantial majority even if Scottish and Welsh MPs abstain. If I had been elected in 2005 when I stood for Parliament I would vote in favour of equal marriage tomorrow. I have also spoken to my local MP Rob Wilson to urge him to support the measure. I hope that a majority of Conservative MPs will come down in favour and that those who cannot do so accept defeat with good grace. In a few years same sex marriage will be the accepted norm and no-one will understand the fears and scares being expressed by some in this debate.
David Cameron has this one spot on and his leadership will stand him in good stead at the next election!