4 February 2013
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the whole of society will ground to a halt and that we'll return to the dark ages if/when equal marriage becomes law.
In an attempt to be seen as ‘modern Conservatives', the Prime Minister thought that putting forward legislation to introduce equal marriage would win over votes and make him and his government appear to be friendly towards the cause. I suspect though that he didn't quite expect the response that he has had from the Tory grassroots.
Even though the proposed legislation provides protection for religious institutions, it seems that this still isn't enough to stop the hysteria amongst local Conservative groups. What makes this more bizarre is that figures from the Church of England and the Church of Wales which, in the legislation, will be specifically banned from performing "gay marriages" have stated that they think the restrictions on their institutions go too far.
So, why is there such panic amongst the Conservative grassroots? For some reason the issue of equal marriage rights, is one that really seems to be at odds with their core values. For them it's not an issue that should be given time at the minute. This seems to suggest that equality is ok, as long as it's for a select group.
The reason there is so much panic is that Conservative constituencies fear that the passing of this legislation will lead to members leaving the party in droves. In fact, in today's news we hear that the Chairs of 20 Conservative Constituencies have written to the Prime Minister stating their concerns. They have concern that the passing of this legislation will destroy party morale and diminish the party's electoral appeal. What they should be more concerned about is that the lack of economic recovery and the destructive austerity package is making them less appealing.
The passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill may or may not be electoral disaster for the Conservatives, and, if it is, then that's great news for all of us. However, the widening of equality should be the main driving factor. Sadly, Labour is allowing a free vote on the issue, but it should still pass through Parliament and become law.
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