Why gay marriage has exposed Conservative divisions

Same-sex marriage ceremony

Many older Conservatives remember days when they were much more unpopular than they are now - days of strikes, riots and massive protests on the street, days when their leader's name was spat out with anger, days when they felt proud to be Tories.

Those Tories look back with fondness at that time of heroic unpopularity - when they awoke with pride to hear the news about the protests of the dragons Mrs Thatcher was slaying - the unions, CND and the Soviet Union.

Those same older Tories loathe the daily wearying grind of the age of austerity and coalition compromise.

They wake up now to hear with indifference or disappointment or, worse still, anger the news of what their government is doing. It is gay marriage which has released that fury.

Gay marriage was always certain to cause a furious row since it challenges sincere religious beliefs, deeply-rooted social conservatism and a mistrust of the metropolitan elite who are blamed for imposing an ideology of legally enforced equality on the country.

However, the real reason for the anger directed at David Cameron is that many Conservatives have realised that they and their attitudes are the dragon their leader has decided to slay.

Many believe that their leader only embraced gay marriage as part of his obsession with modernising the Tories and/or to claim credit for a measure the Lib Dems were determined to drive through.

There may be some truth in both but talking to senior Tories about gay marriage reminds me of talking to Tony Blair about Iraq.

When people hurled at him their belief that he was invading Iraq because of oil or a desperation to suck up to America he would reply "It's worse than you think, I really believe this".

The same is true of those around David Cameron and his acolytes. They really do believe in gay marriage. They believe much opposition to it is rooted in what they call "bigotry".

They want their government to be remembered for a great social change and not just its efforts to turn the economy around.

The divisions on display now stem from the fact that, in order to get their way, they are having to slay the sincerest beliefs of some of their own activists and MPs.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 762.

    surely the easy solution for this problem is for everyone opposed to gay marriage to make sure they never marry anyone of the same sex and let everyone else do as they wish

  • Comment number 761.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 760.

    Next stab at equality tax the top 2 percent and equally distribute the wealth amongst the other 98 percent. Gotta love it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 759.

    Civil Union sounds delightful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 758.

    747 I'm sorry to hear what happened you, I've never wanted to molest anyone because is wrong. Fortunately although common practice in the heterosexual world in previous centuries its now outlawed. I do know what you mean though as I was almost tricked into marriage by social pressure but fortunately I decided I couldn't hurt a woman by lying to myself and her in that way

  • rate this

    Comment number 757.

    Having been molested at the age of 12 my choice was marriage and I wanted a woman. If gay marriage was law I may have been tricked into an unwanted relationship. I can't believe how stupid politicians are. But I'm sure they are stupid as stupid can be. Hope I can find a country that doesn't change marriage from a man and woman to two people. Such global ignorance.

  • Comment number 756.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 755.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 754.

    Well, IR35_Survivor won't be happy, will he ?


  • rate this

    Comment number 753.

    751. Bill m

    First World Problems! If you, or anyone else are going to loose sleep over equality and two people who love each other getting married, you need to something more to occupy yourselves with.

    By the way, marriage is state law, not a religious right.

    I do hope you have never worked on the sabath, eaten seafood, had sex before marriage or allowed a lady to speak in a 'house of god'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 752.

    Bill m
    I agree, it's always baffled me how 'Christians' can disregard clear Bible teaching when it's a vote winner.
    For me it's not even a religious issue though as many, many non-Christians are against the bill because it is not about equality at all.
    Have to disagree on Blair though - best PM in the last 30 years :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 751.

    When i heard certain mps debating this today, and calling themselves Christians that agree with this, they are not Christians, if they were and even only knew the basics of bible study, they would not agree with same sex marriage.
    Dont know how they can sleep at night, and as for Cameron he is a Tory , Tony Blair ,I/E DONT BELIEVE A WORD HE SAYS

  • rate this

    Comment number 750.

    "will be hurt"
    "totally needless"

    To the extent that 'need' perceived, because people HAVE been 'hurt', and because the solemnisation of marriage is unambiguous only with respect to fidelity in close relationship, blessed with own children or not, naturally conceived or in ways still developing, legal protections still evolving

    A "shocking" bid for travesty? Simply multi-cultural

  • rate this

    Comment number 749.

    It's nothing of the sort. To say that homosexuals having a different legal union to heterosexuals on the grounds that they are different is segregation is what is really ludicrous
    736 Kindred and 741 Paolo are right
    739 - Been there with family! It's not inequality, it's a different form of legal union because we are different! Nothing homophobic about it! Very disappointing result today!

  • rate this

    Comment number 748.

    743 - are you suggesting that people are forced to be gay? Wake up! And if you seriously believe people can be moulded back into hetrosexuals you are massively out of the picture. Those who claim they are no longer gay are in denial and probably under strong social pressures.

    When members of the church stop molesting children, both male and female, talk to me about how 'hetro' the church is!

  • rate this

    Comment number 747.

    Today is a very very good day.

    Bye bye bigots, your time is up !

  • rate this

    Comment number 746.

    It does make me laugh that more than likely, a large number of those against equality in marriage, don't go to church, don't actively practice their religion and if they do, pick and choose what suits them from their respective religious texts.

    Why is it that only certain parts of the bible apply to your 21st century life? You can't be selective if you feel so strongly about an issue like this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 745.

    To 741 no one is denying your right to Marriage I'm just not sure why you are denying me my right to it. I was brought up in a Christian home with loving parents and siblings, I love my partner and we're faithful to our partnership... Oh and I'm gay

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    When the law discriminates on grounds of a 'protected characteristic' there is, a presumption that it is wrong. Sometimes it is right to draw distinctions though; at present the law of marriage rightly discriminates on grounds of age, numbers of partners and close relations. Doing so is just good moral sense. Excluding same sex marriage is not discrimination it is an appropriate distinction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 743.

    Not every gay person is born that way, some are clearly pushed over the edge and then later realise and move back if they can.

    What seems to have been completely ignored by all including David Cameron is how we now set children a good example from birth?

    It would seem there are going to be a lot more confused young people and a bigger work load for Social Services and the Courts in the future.


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