Let’s rejoice in the fact that people who love each other will be able to marry. Because there’s a lot of joy in that.

5th February, 2013 4:41 pm

At about 7pm tonight when MPs vote to introduce historic equal marriage legislation, David Cameron will rightly get a share of the credit. He has been brave enough to face down the majority his party over an issue of equality, but he hasn’t been able to take his party with him. He won’t be able to credibly claim this as a modernising moment for the Tory Party. Quite the opposite. Today will reveal the scale of the out to touch, backwards looking, deeply socially conservative (and in some cases downright bigoted) group that sits behind Cameron on the Tory benches.

Cameron could walk through the opposite lobby to as many as half of his MPs tonight. This may be a “free vote”, but as a rebellion it could be on the same scale as Iraq. Labour MPs broke the whip to oppose military action overseas. Tory MPs defy their leader to stop two people who love each other achieving equal rights and getting married to each other.

What a sad set of priorities.

The truth is that tonight’s legislation will pass thanks Labour votes (at least 225 by our latest count). Whilst it’s deplorable that 13 or more Labour MPs will vote against (and at least 5 will seek to avoid the backlash by abstaining), it’s clear that this legislation will pass thanks to Labour votes. Ed Miliband should have made that clear by whipping the vote, stating that equality is not a “conscience issue” and forcing those Shadow Ministers who are not expected to back the legislation to choose between voting with the rest of the PLP and their Shadow Ministerial roles. Alas Miliband took a different route – but it doesn’t mean that Labour should be denied the credit for this great leap forwards.

That a Tory leader should ever make a public stand on an issue of equality is testament to the enduring legacy Labour’s record. The great leaps forward for gay rights (and equal rights more broadly) over Labour’s 13 years in power is something that most Labour people are incredibly proud of, and which will never be reversed. After today Gay Marriage will be much the same. In recent weeks the fallacy has been repeated that Civil Partnerships were introduced with ne’er a word of discontent. Bollocks. They were opposed by the Tory back woodsmen then as Equal Marriage is opposed now. But, as former Tory MP Matthew Parris noted in the Times recently, Vote ‘no’ and you will blush to remember it.

By the time we all go to bed tonight, something truly historic will have happened in politics and our country, something which will bring newfound rights (and more importantly, joy) to millions. All those who wish to be married will now be able to do so under an equal system. The questions about how the legislation is flawed are for another day, as is the anger at those (on all sides of the house) who would have denied rights to people based on their sexuality.

Today, lets rejoice in the fact that people who love each other will be able to marry.

Because there’s a lot of joy in that.

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  • Jeremy_Preece

    Okay Mark. So you and your side look like winning a parlimentry majority that you will rejoice at upsetting most of the Christian, Jewish, Musim faiths as well as other faiths. Of course 2000 years of history and our civilisation need to ripped up and rewritten because you and the current mob have decided that gay marriage is now to be railroaded through.
    I have said before that Milliband did right not to whip the vote.
    In the end it was a free vote so don’t try to make out that Cameron is some kind of hero. Poeple voted according to their conscience and as it was a free vote perhaps you would like to appoligise to those Labour MPs brave enough to defy the mob rule, and not to vote with that nice David cameron and Goerge Osborne and the lovely fluffy Michael Gove.
    I wish that those who abstained had had the courage of their convictions and voted against.

    • Brumanuensis

      “Of course 2000 years of history and our civilisation need to ripped up and rewritten because you and the current mob have decided that gay marriage is now to be railroaded through”.

      “As for respecting other people it is actually some very agressive gay rights people who have been deliberately trying to book church halls and the like for civil partnership receptions just to enjoy causing offense, in exactly the same way as Nazis forced Jews to eat pork”.

      “This use of law to drive religious views out of public life is in no way new and has been part of the main plank of many a dictator. The constitution of Hitler’s Third Riech contains such pledges, the difference is that he was not pretending to be tolerant”.

      But of course, you complained to Chillbaldi…

      “So a good bit of name calling and you dismiss those that don’t agree with you as being “old worlde” and therefore inferior to yourself”.

      Not that you’d indulge in name-calling Jeremy. Oh no. Not at all.

      • Jeremy_Preece

        Glad that you have been following so avidly 🙂

    • Jeremy, a majority of religious people support equal marriage. If the minority of religious people who want to impose their religious views on everybody else are defeated in the name of securing freedom and equality for marginalised and oppressed people that certainly is something to celebrate.

    • Brave enough to admit their homophobia. Shame on every one of them. Labour MPs who support discrimination….

      • Jeremy_Preece

        Hello again Mike
        What a day it has been. My last certainty in life was ended when I noticed that we were in complete agreement over the by election in Eastliegh.
        So normal service has been resumed.
        We have been over this before, it was a free vote, and that is democracy works.
        Other versions of democracy is where people are bullied into how to vote, while the henchmen watch how each votes so that they can get to them and give them their beating later if they vote the wrong way. Now that it my idea of shame.

        • Only that didn’t happen. Your view is in a small minority within the Labour party.

  • Hamish Dewar

    Your logic seems confused here Mark.
    It appears that you praise the (few) Labour MPs who defied the whip on Iraq,
    But you excoriate any (probably equally few) who go against the majority on a free vote –a concept which you don’t approve of anyway.
    If this is not an issue of conscience, it is difficult to think of any that would be.
    In the meantime, the electorate have other priorities.

    • Jeremy_Preece

      Let me clarify. Its all about principles
      If Labour MPs defy the whip in a way that Mark agrees with then it is great and they are heros.
      If they vote in a free vote in a way that Mark doesn’t like, then they are traitors.
      Makes sense dosn’t it!

      Anyway those who hate democracy hate free votes 🙂

    • AlanGiles

      I have to admit I agree with Mark. I am a bit of an old romantic on the quiet. If people have such strong feelings for each other, and want to get married, then let them, regardless of the fact they are of the same sex. Let’s think of those men and women who marry, not out of love, but for some advantage, to get on in the world, for the sake of their careers or to put it bluntly, for their partners bank balance. Because they are of the opposite sex, the Church (whichever it might be) won’t be concerned about that, or at least they won’t question the motives of a male or female 18 year old marrying a male or female of 60. By contrast you might get two men (or two women) who love each other for genuine reasons. I think if I had been opposed to this bill, I would have abstained rather than vote against, for the simple reason it doesn’t seem right to question the morality of something we don’t have personal experience or knowledge of. Personally I would feel uncomfortable having to vote on issues like abortion, because again, I have no real knowledge of the issue. Due to my families personal circumstances it is highly likely if abortion had been legal all those decades ago, I wouldn’t be here today (which would no doubt make a lot of people happy!). However it was both dangerous and illegal, and the illegality would have deterred my family. Many lives were destroyed because of the harsh view society had at that time on both illegitimacy and abortion, and these views pertained well into the swinging sixties.

      As I am not religous, I cannot approach these subjects with feelings of morality, but only out of sheer practicality. In a world of uncertainty and unhappiness, if two people regardless of sex want to be committed to each other, and are genuine in their love for each other, who are we to prevent them from hving the same rights a heterosexual couple have?.

      Just as having an abortion in the 1940s was illegal, it is worth remembering that gay men could still be sent to prison well into the 1960s, just for what and who they were.

      It is a really strange thought that “morality” was responsible for things like this, and I think in 2013 it is time we really adopted a live and let live attitude.

    • AlanGiles

      Hamish, Those MPs who voted against Iraq were voting against death and destruction.

      Those MPs who voted against this bill were voting against life and love.

      There is a massive difference there.

  • Very pleased with the result and the overwhelming support of Labour MPs

  • Of 145 female MPs, 18 voted against (including 13 Tories) = 12.4%.
    Of 500 male MPs, 157 voted against = 31.4%.

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