Is the EU behind Cameron's gay-marriage conviction?
What a tawdry, inadequate and occasionally unseemly debate. As Dr Timothy Stanley observed, it was less Gladstone v Disraeli; more Claire Raynor v Richard Littlejohn. There were allusions to history, appeals to biology, some mention of theology, but no understanding at all of ontology. The debate was politically driven without regard for mores or morality. Every sincere expression of ethical concern was swept aside with superficial appeals to the relentless march of progress. Every contentious proposition questioning the very notion of equality in this context was muzzled with 'I find that very offensive'. There were no great speeches from either side, and those that happened to be good were permeated with trivia, flippancy or emotive appeals to romance. When Parliament needed to give us meat, they poured out cups of milk; instead of Aquinas we got Mills & Boon.
Take just this single exchange, which touched upon the value of the assurances currently being given about the unintended consequences of redefining marriage:
Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): During the passage of the Civil Partnership Bill in 2004, my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr Leigh) pointed out to the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), who is sitting next to the right hon. Lady, that that Bill would inevitably lead on to gay marriage. The hon. Gentleman replied:There was Yvette Cooper, flanked fittingly by equality czars Chris Bryant and Harriet Harman, asked a perfectly reasonable question about Labour's very specific assurances that civil partnership would not lead to gay marriage. And she responds with waffle about cake and confetti. Chris Bryant was the minister who gave the assurances: they were written in the cited report. He simply leaned forward, simpering, and patronisingly explained: "The world has moved on."
“The hon. Gentleman is completely mistaken… I do not want same-sex relationships to ape marriage in any sense…because they are different. Although the two share similar elements, they do not have to be identical, so the legal provisions should be distinct.”—[Official Report, 12 October 2004; Vol. 425, c. 228.] What has changed since then?
Yvette Cooper: My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda has since celebrated his own civil partnership as a result of that Bill. I am sure that he would have happily invited the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies), had he had the chance to do so.
Well, the world is sure to move on again, such that the assurances we are currently being given may not mean too much even a few years hence. Parliament is presuming to redefine natural law, which is an astonishingly un-conservative pursuit.
The Prime Minister told us a few years ago that he was in favour of gay marriage because he's a Conservative. The problem is that the majority of his party doesn't agreee with him. Indeed, 70 per cent of his own backbenchers don't agree with him. This is not a conservative proposal that can command the majority of either the Parliamentary Conservative Party or the wider Conservative Party membership. Are they all simply wrong?
Gerald Howarth told Parliament that the Government had no mandate to push through a 'massive social and cultural change'. "This is not evolution; it's revolution," proclaimed Edward Leigh, explaining that marriage is 'by its nature a heterosexual union'. But the majority thought otherwise: the Government's case was put far more convincingly with far more conviction by the Opposition Front Bench.
Gay marriage may be a social innovation ‘whose time has come’; it might even be ‘just’, ‘equitable’ and a ‘good idea’. But it is catastrophically bad politics for both David Cameron personally and the Conservative Party generally. Just look at today's headlines: they are not about Conservative triumph or Cameron the-hero-of-gay-equality. They are all about Tory divisions. Contra Francis Maude, same-sex marriage is not a progressive decontamination of the Tory brand; it is a contentious recontamination, destined to alienate thousands of traditional supporters and revive incessant murmurs of ‘Tory splits’.
David Cameron needs to be seen to be concerned, focused and associated with macro policy and the wholly necessary crucial reforms to build a better Britain – we’re talking about the economy, education and welfare. Politically, the Conservative Party needs to be focusing on winning a majority in 2015 (or even sooner) in order to complete the task – we’re talking about winning the Pakistani Muslim vote in Luton; the Indian Sikh vote in Southall, the African-Caribbean Pentecostal vote in Lewisham, and the Roman Catholic vote throughout the North-West. These groups tend to have strongly conservative views on moral issues such as homosexuality, and ‘gay marriage’ is quite simply a step too far.
His Grace received an email during the debate from UKIP Intelligence (no 'oxymoron' cracks, please). It appears that if Parliament does not 'regularise' its civil-partnership/marriage provisions to accord with an imminent EU diktat, it will be imposed on the UK regardless.
An EU report due to be voted through the EU Parliament this November would see all marriages and civil contracts conducted in any EU country become legally binding in all other member states. Under the Berlinguer Report, a couple who are not permitted to marry in their home country could travel to another member state in order to wed, knowing that on their return home they would have to be regarded as married.The full report may be read HERE. If UKIP are right, and this 'Roadmap' to the 'Legislative proposal on mutual recognition of the effects of certain civil status documents' is the real reason Cameron is bringing forward this legislation now, why does the 'Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill' specifically state that such marriages occurring in England or Wales 'will' revert to civil partnerships in Northern Ireland, and 'may' revert to the same in Scotland? Is this just another example of the muddled thinking, incompetence and confusion at the heart of this Government? Is David Cameron really driving this destructive, damaging and divisive legislation through Parliament now in order to avoid a monumental EU/UK conflagration next year during the Euro elections, on the run-up to the 2015 General Election?
Paragraph 40 of the Report would mean that any member state would have to grant 'all social benefits and other legal effects' such as legal recognition, tax breaks and benefit entitlements to a married couple, even if such a marriage did not exist in their own legal system.
Mr Farage said: "Now we know why David Cameron has launched this highly contentious and disruptive legislation, apparently out of the blue.
"If a couple were to marry in Belgium, Spain, Portugal or Sweden where same-sex marriage is possible, the EU will say that they have to be given the same legal rights in whichever member state they then chose to live – even if that state itself opposes the introduction of same-sex marriage. In essence the Berlinguer Report seeks to establish an EU-wide right to same-sex marriage.
"It's no surprise that the Prime Minister has kept quiet about this, even at the expense of cohesion in his own party. He has a hard enough time trying to force his own backbenchers to swallow both his dedication to keeping Britain in the EU and his wish for the state to interfere in the definiton of marriage. To suggest that the two issues are in fact interconnected would have caused complete uproar."