Last week the “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was passed for a second reading, in effect the first stage in it becoming law. The voting figures are revealing, 45% of the Conservatives voted against it, and even worse 40 Conservatives failed to vote, including the Prime Minister whose party introduced the Bill.
Of the 205 Labour MP’s only 9 voted against it, the Liberal Democrats voted in favour to give the Bill a comfortable 225 vote majority in the House, the vote being a tidy 400 in favour of the Bill with 175 against the Bill. Whilst a triumph for social justice this is disaster for the Conservatives, unable to provide a majority vote on their own legislation and relying on ‘Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition’ to get the vote passed, as will be relied on for further stages of the legislation.
Not only has the David Cameron very visibly exposed his inability to enforce order on the Parliamentary Conservative Party he has also exposed the bigotry and reactionary nature of the Party that brought the infamous ‘Clause 28’ is still alive.
The Government were under no obligation to enact such legislation, it certainly wasn’t part of any manifesto, but it was probably a good ‘vote winner’ for the whatever percentage of the LGBT community if affects – unfortunately it has totally backfired creating rifts in the Government, splitting the party (along with other issues such as Europe) and highlighting the fragile nature of the tenancy of the Prime Minister; that a Prime Minister cannot command a majority ‘in the house’ from his own party was probably last seen in 1974 under Harold Wilson and wreaks of incompetence. Shrouding the vote as a ‘conscience vote’ fooled no-one, morally we have to ask when was Human Rights a matter of conscience, and not a matter of principles?
No matter how much I welcome the passing of Bill I have to conclude that this has been a shambles for the Conservatives.
The ball was fumbled, to get around the European Human Right Act the Government introduced clauses that religious organisations do not have to perform Equal Marriages, unless the Priest agrees to it – this is similar to legislation in Denmark – of course because we have a State Church, the Church of England, it is not only exempt it is illegal for them to performs Equal Marriages. The Church of England and Wales were furious, basically saying ‘no-one asked us about this’. The Government has dropped the ball with the electorate, the Church and the Parliamentary Party – could it be much more of a disaster?
Thanks to Twitter we now have direct access to our MP’s, for some this is boon and to others a curse. My MP, @JTomlinsonMP (Conservative) said that he was going to vote for the Bill, which I give thanks, @Tom_Watson (Labour) wrote:
I’ve had 112 letters and Postcards against gay marriage and one in favour. I’m voting in favour in gay marriage.
The above obviously earn my praise, but none more so than Mark Menzies MP (Conservative) who said:
“I came here today intending to abstain, but now I am going to vote for the Bill”
My utmost scorn belongs to David Davies MP (Conservative) – you can follow him at @DavidtcDavies – when he wrote
“Some 1 asked if you can compare gay marriage to moxed (mixed) marriages. Ludicrous question”
Coming from the MP who said, very publicly in the Guardian Newspaper, that he thought parents would prefer their children not to be gay and that the wasn’t homophobic because he fought a Gay Boxer I shouldn’t be surprised, even more so I would not be surprised if Tory Central Office banned him from having a Twitter account to be honest.
My funny response would be from Torch Song Trilogy, when Harvey Fierstein confronts his mother at the graveside about the loss of his partner and his Mum, played by Anne Bancroft, fails to see how her loss in a mirror of her grief:
You’re right, how dare I? I couldn’t know how it feels to put somebody’s things in plastic bags and watch the Garbage Men take them away; or how it feels when you forget and set his place at the table. The food rots because you forgot to shop for one. You had it easy, you have your friends and relatives, I had me.
In a real way the scene from Torch Song Trilogy deals with the ‘how can you compare straight marriage to gay marriage’ question of comparing gay and straight marriages, it’s just marriage, it is just sharing your life and hopes.
On a personal note last November me and H came back from Germany, normally we had flown back into Birmingham, or had a few days chilling before work, this time I was straight back to work, and H had to be back at work as well. Due to circumstances we live 75 miles apart at the moment, but that will hopefully change soon, so having flown into Gatwick we got the train to Reading. The sense of loneliness and being ripped apart at Reading Station as I boarded my train and left him behind, and then tracking each other’s progress as we made our way through a bitterly cold night was painful. It was the first time that I had felt this pain at being ripped apart.
I am sure if David Davies, MP for Monmouth, was in a similar situation he would feel the same, so what else is there to compare?