To paraphrase – I don’t agree with those who have spoken out against same-sex marriage – but I absolutely defend their right to do so. What I don’t defend and have been quite horrified by are those who have used extreme language or hysteria in pursuit of their argument. Hopefully we won’t hear or see that again as this live and let live policy progresses.
But you don’t have to agree with it to allow those who do want to get married to do so. If two same sex people in a love relationship want to demonstrate their love and commitment to each other in the universal institution of marriage – making public promises for a lifelong monogamous commitment to each other until death do them part – then our role as a Government is to facilitate that union.
Ever since I first introduced the idea that the Coalition Government should legislate on same sex marriage – in addition to state conducted marriage – there have also been a number of religious organisations who want to be able to conduct same sex marriages: Quakers, Liberal Jews and some Unitarian Churches for example. I am hopeful that when the Government response to the equal marriage consultation is published later this week that those religions that wish to carry out marriages will be permitted to do so. That is religious freedom. Of course the big fear from those religions who don’t want to carry out such services is that they will be forced to do so. Ironically, if the legislation is permissive on religious freedom to conduct same sex marriages – that will protect absolutely those who do not wish to do so in statute.
Of course I have observed the ranks on the Conservative back benches who are very vocal against same sex marriage. And today in the Sunday Telegraph another Conservative group of senior Conservatives have come out fighting for the proposals. I am pleased to see the progressives in the Conservative Party fighting back. Nick Herbert MP has been a stalwart supporter and ally in helping move this agenda forward all the way through. And I just would have thought that Conservatives would have learned the lessons of their past. Anyway – that is their business.
Same sex marriage is just a live and let live policy. Stonewall put it best:
‘To all those who don’t agree with same sex marriage Stonewall’s strong advice is not to marry someone of the same sex.’
I am also hopeful that one day when this legislation and time has passed – instead of labelling this gay marriage, equal marriage or same sex marriage – it will just be marriage!