As I write this the Commons is debating legalising gay marriage, and it will vote on the subject at around seven o’clock tonight. There is absolutely no question that the measure will pass, however large the Conservative backbench opposition to it eventually turns out to be, for the simple reason that the vast majority (although not all) of Labour MP’s are voting in favour. I’m guessing that none of you will be surprised to find out that I think this is fantastic news, and I would add that frankly I find the arguments against the measure so feeble, not to mention bigoted, that I’m not even going to dignify them with a response.
I would make the observation that the fact that this is happening today is a testament to how quickly social attitudes towards homosexuality have changed in recent years. While I was at school I remember seeing the front page of The Sun newspaper screaming “Is Britain run by a gay mafia?”, then ‘outing’ several gay men in the British government, as if their sexuality had some bearing on their ability to govern. That was only fifteen years ago, yet in that time such naked bigotry has become a total anachronism. The fact that as a society we have moved on from that and are now legislating to ensure that there are no areas of British life that gay people are excluded from is something we can be justifiably proud of.
Since all that is so predictably socially liberal of me, I’d like to make one final point. All the opposition on the Conservative backbenches is obscuring the fact that this legislation has been put forward by the Conservative leadership. This highly commendable policy is going to be a part of David Cameron’s political legacy, and I think it is something that he will look back on with pride. It is also notable that several Conservatives who have never previously shown modernising tendencies, including Chris Grayling and Bernard Jenkin, have come out in favour of this Bill. These people deserve credit for doing this, and it would be churlish not to give it. This is going to be remembered as one of Parliaments better days.