British Prime Minister David Cameron has made no bones about his support for marriage equality in the United Kingdom. But dissent is coming from expected quarters as well as from within his own party.
At a recent conference in Manchester, Cameron explained that is was only natural for his party to endorse same-sex matrimony: “Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”
But some of those in attendance found his words a tough pill to swallow. Pink News reports that Tory MP Peter Bone called Cameron’s remarks “political correctness.” Junior defense minister Gerald Howarth says he supports civil unions but not full marriage equality. “Some of my best friends are in civil partnerships, which is fine, but I think it would be a step too far to suggest that this is marriage,” he told a reporter from the Daily Telegraph. “I take the view that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. That is what Christian marriage is about.”
A word to Mr. Hogwarth: Sentences that begins with “Some of my best friends are…” always ends with your foot in your mouth.
Image via DFID – UK Department for International Development
That is what “Christian marriage” is about… perhaps.
BUT THE UK IS NOT DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY AROUND CHRISTIANS. Nor the US. Nor here in Australia.
If you don’t want to marry gays as a christian church. Fine. But that is no reason to stop non-Christians to be unable to m arry, gay or straight.
While I don’t believe that Cameron, in his heart, really cares one way or the other about marriage equality, it’s nice to see that he at least has the political intelligence to know that he should get on the right side of history and not go down as a George Wallace or Orval Faubus to future generations. Too bad American right-wingers aren’t this smart.
@sam: Technically, the UK IS designed around Christianity: we have a national – Christian – religion and it formed the basis of our laws for centuries. Recently we have become more secular, this is true. And personally I think that religion should have no place whatsoever in our government. But to say the nation wasn’t designed by and for Christians is incorrect. Fortunately, the influence of Christianity here is waning and not soon enough.
Also, it’s hardly a surprise that there is dissent within the Conservative Party over this subject: they were the party who gave us Section 28 and fought tough and nail against every piece of legislation that would bring equality over the last two decades. Also, Cameron seems like he is pandering to someone – he led the DEFENCE of section 28 when the last government sought to abolish it, a law which stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. So, in a few short years Cameron has gone from screaming homophobe to equality activist? Don’t get me wrong, I welcome the move with open arms – I just question his motives.
@Carl: I think I could hazard a guess at his motives – or only motive: staying in power! 🙂
And I’m utterly dfelighted that he has to say this in order to do so.
I’m still finding it really hard to trust Cameron, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for the moment. After all, he has kinda stuck his neck out and subjected himself to criticism from his own party (as proved in this article) by endorsing marriage equality. That’s quite a risky move, and I doubt any of the Republican Presidential candidates would do the same, even if they believed it was the right thing to do. It would most certainly be career suicide. (except for Fred Karger, I suppose, but then look at the amount of Republicans who don’t give a crap about him…)
@StevenW: Indeed. What a turnaround in just over 20 years. Back in the late-’80s, the Tories introduced Section 28 in a cynical bid to appeal to irrationality and homophobia to get votes… now they have to appear pro-gay in order to win votes. It has to be said, this progress was achieved for the most part despite outright hostility from most in the tory party, including from the current Prime Minister.
Clearly the politics have changed over the last two decades. The politicians now perceive that there are more votes to be gained than lost. The polls show a clear majority in UK now support fair and equal treatment of all people, and all couples. Some have not thought that through and realized that it implies equal marriage rights, but they are well along on that path.
A politicians job is to pander to the majority. The successful ones do just that.
Christian marriage is NOT between one man and ONE woman, please – a large percentages of the “marriages” in the bible is between one man and at least TWO women.
@Joshua: As someone who had to endure catechism, let me just correct you. Those old testament polygamists were JEWS, not Christians.
Mike in Asheville
@pedro: While what you wrote is correct, it is also misleading.
Those so-called Christians rely on the Old Testament as their basis for condemning same-sex relationships — not on the words of Jesus (Jesus himself, not Peter, not Paul, no one else counts if one is going to be a true and faithful follower of Christ).
The Church Of England cannot have it both ways and remain sincere and faithful. Jesus spoke clearly and unequivocally: no divorce and remarriage or marrying a divorcee is committing adultery. Yet the Church has taken what is, perhaps the most important point of Jesus’ teaching about marriage — ensuring the well-being of the spouse and children — yet also allowing a marriage to dissolve for the sake of love.
It is hypocritical to allow a variance in Jesus’ own teachings about marriage, divorce, and remarriage and then not extend that variance to include same-sex couples who also have, in many cases, children, to be together for the sake of love.
In many cases Jesus teaches the new beliefs and dismisses the ancient Jewish laws of the past (Old Testament). In NO CASE, does Jesus disallow two men or two women from love, compassion, and family.
Robert in NYC
Carl, the probable reason why Cameron is endorsing it is that Nick Clegg, the liberal democratic leader who is in the coalition government has endorsed it for quite some time including his party. It makes good political sense for Cameron and his party to support it if they want to retain or gain any gay votes for re-election in 2015. Cameron is a pragmatist, no question about it. Of course, there will always be those who dissent, usually religious nutjobs but I don’t think it will have a rough passage through parliament. The very same thing happened in Spain, Portugal and Argentina, heavily catholic countries and look what happened. The UK is a lot more secular than all three, certainly more so than the U.S. Religion is on the wane in the UK, only 12% of the population worship regularly compared to more than 50% in the U.S.
That said, Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party supports it, although his party has yet to endorse it as official policy. Cameron has made a smart political move by getting on board. His party will fall in line if they want to get re-elected. They can’t afford to lose one gay vote considering the election last year resulted in a hung parliament in which nobody had the majority. Cameron’s party can’t afford to let that happen again by opposing marriage equality.
Don’t even mention the sell-out Clegg to me, I voted for that spineless little worm. In the coalition the lib dems have almost zero influence, it’s just another damn Tory government, the one thing I voted to avoid. We were in the crapper before and things are getting worse now the Tories are back in. Back on topic, Cameron knows the internal conflict this move would cause, so picking it out of all the lib dem policies to support seems odd, when there are others he could have chosen that would cause less of an internal rift and appease the lib dem faithful.
No, as others have said, this is Cameron pandering to a shifting public opinion – a concept I find somewhat worrying: what if public opinion shifts back towards supporting slavery, will the government go along with that? Politicians should do what is right because of just that – it is the right thing to do. Not to gain popularity – and that is what this feels like. Leopards don’t become elephants, no matter how hard they may try. A handful of years ago Cameron was virulently homophobic and I don’t for one second buy his alleged change of heart.
But whatever his motives, as I said before, I applaud the move. It’s time to abolish the separate but equal attitude of Civil Partnerships.
Apparently Samantha Cameron is very very supportive of G Marriage. You only have to look at the footage from the conferance of her clapping like a woman possessed as her husband spoke about the subject to realise that she has more influence than we think.
The sooner this happens the sooner the Conservative movement can start recruiting gay members by the 1000s if not 10,000s!!!! Can’t wait!!! Love SamCam!!!
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