Thursday, 7 February 2013

Gay Marriage Passes!

I know I'm running a little late on this, but the news that the House of Commons passed gay marriage is fantastic.  While civil partnerships offered same-sex couples effectively all the rights of marriage, and the government had proven itself willing to enforce that, recognising that hetero- and homosexual unions are fundamentally the same is a significant moment.  It seems odd that, within my lifetime, a Conservative government should have passed Section 28; and within my memory, there were scandals over homosexual members of a Labour government.  It's always nice to be reminded that things can get better.

At the risk of ruining that mood, I want to consider the politics of the situation.  Without wishing to get too cynical, I don't think David Cameron pushed for this out of the goodness of his heart.  I mean, I'm sure he does genuinely think this is a good thing, but he's also a politician.  He wouldn't do this if he didn't think there was some gain to be made.  I think this comes down to the same reason he supported women and minority candidates in many seats in the last general election: a belief/realisation that the Conservative party needs to broaden its appeal and adapt to the changing moral landscape.

In this sense, the fact that almost half his party voted against the bill is a sign of the problems he continues to face.  He might want to move the Tories away from being the party of old, stubborn, reactionary, white men; but unfortunately for him, many of the party are old, stubborn, reactionary, white men.  And most of those who aren't are old, stubborn, reactionary, white women.

But really, who would expect that the party of tradition would struggle to change?

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