David Cameron is on the right side of history on equal marriage

10th December, 2012 10:26 am

“I agree with David Cameron.”

It’s not a sentence that comes easily to Labour supporters, but in the coming months, on one particular issue, it’s one that I’m going to have to familiarise myself with.

David Cameron is right on Gay Marriage. Completely right. Unequivocally right.

Bringing equality to the institution of marriage is not only the morally right thing to do (and places Cameron on the right side of history on this issue), he’s also right that marriage in churches should be legal if the church itself wishes to conduct same-sex marriages. No-one should (or could) be forced to conduct a marriage they are against, but at the same time, religious same sex marriages should be allowed if some churches/religions are enlightened enough to conduct them. It’s a sensible policy all round, and also – pleasingly – is the right thing to do.

He deserves praise and cross party support for that, which I’m sure he’ll receive.

Of course it would be all too easy to make light of Cameron’s correctness on this score – to say that “even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day”. We could spend hours listing all of the mistakes he has made, and all of the odious, backwards and, yes, homophobic statements that some Tories have come out with. And that would be diverting, and point scoring and in some ways revealing.

But it would also be completely unfair.

Similarly, it would be easy too to argue that Cameron is taking such a stand on gay marriage because of potential electoral benefits. Indeed his key strategist (and sometime Chancellor) has made just that argument. Or we could argue that Cameron is picking a fight with his party to look more moderate, although surely there are dozens of issues that he could have chosen for such a task (and I remain unconvinced that taking such a stance on equal marriage will materially change the Tory vote at the next election).

Instead, this looks like something that Cameron sincerely wants to do. And something which he is making a brave and considered stand on.

More than that, it seems to be a conviction of his that it needs to be done. From a man who all too often seems to blow in the wind where conviction is concerned, this seems more solid and deeper rooted than we’ve come to expect from the Prime Minister. He is standing up to those who argue that some people have no right to take part in the institution of marriage because of their sexuality. And although his support for equal marriage builds on a decade of gay rights legislation from Labour, that should not diminish the power of what he is doing. There is nothing wrong with building on the achievements of others. All politicians have stood on the shoulders of giants at one point or another.

He is doing, unequivocally, the right thing.

That’s not something Labour people say very often about Tory politicians, never mind Tory Prime Ministers. But in this case it is unquestionably deserved.

Well done Prime Minister. On this issue, history will judge you favourably, and rightly so.

  • https://mikestallard.virtualgallery.com/ Mike Stallard

    Right on!
    Truth! Onwards and upwards, not backwards and sideways.
    That is the Labour Way!

  • http://twitter.com/Ceilidhann Kayleigh Anne

    Indeed he is on the right side of history here. I’m just disappointed that before he got there he’d already gathered this voting record:


    I’d also like to say that I don’t think it “heroic” or “brave” when a Tory decides to stop being a homophobe. It’s not brave to be a decent human being. It’s just doing the right thing.

  • LembitOpiksLovechild

    “No-one should (or could) be forced to conduct a marriage they are against”

    A typically mendacious statement to try and push aside people’s sincerely held obections. Why not, your party and readers of this site are very keen to ensure the law punishes people who do not provide equality of service to gay people in other spheres of life. So should the same apply to bed and breakfast providers, adoption agencies or other providers of services who object on ethical or moral grounds? Thought not.

    Either you permit objections to providing service on moral and ethical grounds or not at all. You can’t have a half way house. After all, marrriage in curch is the same as any other service provided. If this does go ahead how long until a church or vicar is challenged in the courts for refusing to provide gay marriage. How long before Stonewall starts actively searching for a vicar who refuses and then squeals about discrimination.?

  • AlanGiles

    There are times when you can almost feel sorry for Caameron. Here he is trying to push his party into the 21st century and here is one of his right wing MPs Bob Blackman looking wistfully back to the 1980s:


  • PaulHalsall

    I am gay and want equal marriage.

    But damn these Tories who simply attack the poor. What we have is an effort at “pinkwashing” the Tory Party (just as Israel really is a great place for gays, but that does not justify its efforts to suppress Palestine.)

  • PaulHalsall

    Almost no gay person I know thinks that religious people should be required to do, within their religion, what they do not want to do.

    We want civil marriage equality, and the right for any church or synagogue to celebrate such marriages if they want. Liberal Jews, Reform Jews, Quakers, Unitarians, the Metropolitan Community Church all want to. The United Reform Church will probably agree to on a congregation by congregation basis (that s how they are organised).

    I think Anglican vicars who want to, should be able to also, but that is up to the Church of England.

    We do not want to be fascists about this.

    As it is CoE churches do NOT have to marry divorcees (a bit odd considering its history), and Catholic Churches do not have to marry, for example, Jews and Muslims (although CoE churches in Cyprus do provide this service to Israelis!).

    As Karl Popper once noted, often good enough is indeed good enough.


  • News George Osborne “doesn’t live in the real world”

    George Osborne “doesn’t live in the real world”

    George Osborne’s failure to mention the Redcar steel plant, where 1,700 workers are losing their jobs, shows that he “doesn’t live in the real world”, according to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. Osborne made a half hour speech at the Conservative conference in Manchester earlier today, with McDonnell slamming the Chancellor’s omission of the job losses from his address. McDonnell is today visiting Redcar with Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle to speak to steelworkers losing their livelihoods. “They want substantive answers […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured So long, Denis

    So long, Denis

    I was once writing a column about leadership and those moments when you really have to be tough and probably end up upsetting people. In my head was a phrase I was sure I had heard Denis Healey use on one occasion – that while “sometimes you may have to be a bastard you must never be a shit”. But as this column was for the FT, there was no way I was going to be allowed just to claim […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Healey showed what guts it took to be a Common Sense Chancellor

    Healey showed what guts it took to be a Common Sense Chancellor

    There’s a certain art to be Chancellor of the Exchequer during the good times. It’s a time to make progress turning Labour ideals into action. But to do the job when the world is in meltdown: that takes nerves of steel. Denis Healey had those, and the intellect to identify Britain’s long-term economic challenge. I was Chief Secretary to the Treasury during Alistair Darling’s final year as Chancellor. It was my job to negotiate the deals with Cabinet to halve […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Lord Adonis resigns Labour whip to chair Government Infrastructure Commission

    Lord Adonis resigns Labour whip to chair Government Infrastructure Commission

    It will be announced tomorrow that Andrew Adonis will become chair of the Government’s Infrastructure Commission. Adonis, a peer, has resigned the Labour whip in the House of Lords to take up the role, as is normal for peers taking up independent bodies. In 2010, Frank Field and Alan Milburn were criticised were for taking roles advising the Government on poverty and social mobility. The National Infrastructure Commission is a policy from Labour’s manifesto this year, and Adonis was on the review […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Healey saw off Benn in 1981. What are the similarities with today?

    Healey saw off Benn in 1981. What are the similarities with today?

    The death of Denis Healey would have been a huge moment of sadness and reflection whatever the timing of his passing. There are very few figures beyond the sadly short list of six Labour Prime Ministers who have had as much impact on the party as him. But the timing of his death has the added poignancy of coming just after the election of a party leader from an avowedly Bennite tradition. Healey’s narrow victory over Tony Benn in the […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends