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Update: No. 10 says MPs will be given free vote on equal marriage

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  1. This legislation is not an issue of conscience.

    1. I agree, Its a human right.

    2. exactly! how one earth can it be compared to “like abortion”????! That is just patronising, ignorant and discriminatory.

      1. theotherone 24 May 2012, 12:08pm

        well abortion is a human right and it goes to a free vote so pretty similar then.

        1. It’s not similar. Abortion is contraversial because it’s about weighing the right of the mother to choose against the right of the foetus to live. The point is that either way, one woman/foetus will have to forfeit a right. Gay marriage is simply an issue of people gaining rights. I would liken it more to women getting equal pay. And that isn’t a vote of conscience.

          1. So you would put the issue of racial equality as less important than abortion – if racial equality is “just about getting more rights” to compare your comments on gay rights to racial equality?

    3. It’s an issue of culturalist pointscoring as usual.

      Oh well, if it makes them feel better I suppose. I don’t expect Lib Dem backbenchers will be given a free vote on secret courts or domestic surveillance (Digital Economy Act 2010), but hey ho.

      1. bobbleobble 24 May 2012, 12:54pm

        It’s a bit different for the Lib Dems anyway because gay marriage is a plank of their party platform. I don’t know much about the constitution of the Lib Dem party but Lib Dem MPs may be required to vote in favour of it for that reason.

    4. It makes me so angry to hear it described as an issue of conscience. This is such a betrayal. It is a matter of basic human rights and equality. The only reason I can think of why such a thing has happened is that Cameron is scared of a revolt, so this backtracking makes him look very weak. Will it be an issue of conscience for Labour and Lib Dem too? If they are not whipped to vote then there are quite a few who will vote against and the vote could be lost.

      Our only hope is for Scotland to set a precedent.

      1. No not our only hope. Given that 42 Tories are already “out” as being in favour, then even if no more come forward (and I suspect more will) then if most Lib Dems vote in favour (which is a reasonable view) and if 90% of Labour vote in favour (which is a conservative estimate according to an article at the weekend), if SNP abstain (which is their policy on matters affecting England and not Scotland), if Sinn Fein abstain (as is their policy) and if the Green MP votes in favour – which they have stated they will then there will be an absolute parliamentary majority in the House of Commons.

        Right wing extremists try to dress it up in deceptive terms, firstly they claimed there would be no vote – Downing Street rubbished that very quickly, then they claimed that it was a change to allow a conscience vote and a concession to them (it was always intended to be a conscience vote and thus there is no volte face), they also claim the vote will fail – the arithmetic suggests otherwise.

        1. Of course its not over till the fat lady sings – but she is far more likely to be singing “I am What I am” than “I Don’t want to be a homosexual” by the Sloppy Seconds.

      2. Remember the SNP government in Scotland have still to make a decision on whether they’re going ahead with it, so there’s no guarantee that Scotland will set a precedent.

        Also, I think all parties in the Scottish Parliament have said their MSPs will have a free vote on marriage equality too, but nobody is suggesting this means the Scot Gov are backtracking. I doubt Scot Gov Ministers like Roseanna Cunningham, Fergus Ewing, Brian Adam and Michael Matheson will vote for it, given their past records and views. But there are no headlines about any of that!

        Ever since the Scot Govt launched their consultation, there has been a general consensus that it’s a done deal when that’s not the case – they’ve said all along that no decisions have been made – a situation that still stands today.

        The coaltion government in Westminster, however, have said all along that it’s a matter of HOW not IF – that’s more of a commitment than we’ve ever had from the SNP government in Scotland.

        1. My main point is that marriage equality in Scotland is being treated differently by the media than marrige equality in England.

          Things like this – the Tories saying their MPs will have a free vote – is treated as though it means they’re about to drop the whole thing, while the situation in Scotland is exactly the same with ALL parties giving their MSPs a free vote (I think) yet nobody claims that means the SNP are about to drop it.

          Why the double standards? That’s all I’m asking.

          1. Perhaps its because the Scottish media journalists are not giving the issue the attention that they should be?

          2. I was specifically talking about the LGBT media rather than the Scottish media, and how marrige equality in England/Wales is being treated differently than in Scotland.

            For example, the Tories saying that their MPs will have a free vote is apparently evidence that they’re backtracking on marriage equality.

            However, the SNP have said all along that their MSPs will have a free vote, yet there have been no stories suggesting that means the SNP are backtracking.

            It’s completely inconsistent.

          3. As for the Scottish media, they have actually given it a lot of attention, but again, there is a general consensus that it will definitely go ahead.

          4. What I mean is that (unless I am mistaken) there are very few (if any) dedicated LGBT journalists in Scotland. Most are London based. They will have their ear to the ground on UK and London based (and thus to an extent English) matters. They often due to resources rely on copy from other outlets on further afield – and if its not being reported in a particular way or people do not share local information with them then the LGBT media can only report what the Scottish media say.

            Two possible solutions, i) someone in a Scottish organisation eg Scottish Stonewall or the National LGBT forum could be a designated point of contact for some media organisations ii) a local person in Scotland with a flair for writing and for the issues could write comment pieces (I am sure they would be accepted and published) – that could be you BennieM.

          5. Yes, you’re absolutely right, Stu, I don’t believe there are any Scottish-based LGBT news services such as Pink News. And as far as I know, none of the London-based ones have specific Scottish-based correspondents.

            My complaint about this, though, isn’t so much that Scottish stories aren’t being reported, although I have complained about that before.

            What I’m saying is that when the exact same things are happening north & south of the border when it comes to marriage equality (i.e. the party of government saying their MPs/MSPs will get a free vote on it) the reactions are completey opposite, which doesn’t make sense.

            Apparently free votes means that the Tories are backtracking on it but in Scotland, despite the SNP having the exact same policy on free votes,nobody has suggested that they’re backtracking, in fact it’s generally considered a done deal.

            It just annoys me that the two situations are treated differently.

          6. Equality Network 24 May 2012, 2:47pm

            There is one monthly Scottish LGBT national magazine, ScotsGay, which has been covering equal marriage. The Equality Network has had a lot of contact with Pink News and other London based LGBT outlets about the equal marriage campaign in Scotland. For the past two days we’ve been trying to get Pink News interested in covering our latest campaign for people to email their MSPs in advance of the Scottish Govt’s consultation response next month. So far, though, they haven’t taken us up on it!

            See:
            http://www.equalmarriage.org.uk/takeaction
            and
            http://www.equalmarriage.org.uk/support

          7. @BennieM

            I get what you are saying.

            I think you have a good point in most of what you say.

            I think its difficult for LGBT organisations in London to gauge this as sensitively as someone who is in Scotland.

            Thats why I think you should contact PN and offer to write a comment piece on it. I am sure they would lap it up.

          8. or perhaps EqualMarirage or both of you could do separate articles or collaborate.

            Sometimes, I have found this at work as well as in private and social issues, the media are more likely to act if you do some of the writing to help your message be put across.

          9. @Equality Network

            I’ve not heard in Scots Gay magazine in years! To be honest, I thought they’d wound up a few years back.

            Thanks for the links, the table in particular is really interesting as it gives an indication of which MSPs are in favour of marrige equality. I have no doubt that if does get to a vote in the Scot Parl, then it will pass becuase most MSPs will vote for it.

            I know I’m always pessimstic about this, but it’s just because it’s still not 100% certain that the Scot Gov will go ahead with it. Tthey haven’t even made their decision, as they keep telling us, so there is still a chance, however small, they may decide not to proceed with it.

            When Willie Rennie asked Alex Salmond about it a couple of weeks ago, Salmond twice refered to seeing the consultation process out in order to “resolve” and “conclude” the issue. It did make me fear the worst as if they were going ahead with it, their announcement in June….

          10. …..announcement in June would not be a conclusion or resolution of the issue, but the beginning of the legislation. The only way this issue would be brought to a resolution or conclusion in June is if the Scot Gov decide to shelf plans for equal marriage.

            Maybe I’m reading too much into the words Salmond used, but I tend to always fear the worst.

          11. Equality Network 24 May 2012, 4:58pm

            We don’t have any inside info I’m afraid, so like you, we’re waiting to see what happens in June, but meantime trying to keep the pressure up by encouraging as many people as possible to email all their MSPs.

          12. @Equality Network

            Thanks, you guys do some good work. I’m not very familiar with your organisation, but I’ve noticed that the Equality Network is often in the news, pushing hard for equal marriage. Well done!

            I did e-mail my MSPs months ago and half of the West Scotland regional MSPs didn’t bother to reply. The other half wouldn’t commit either way, but are now on your pledge supporting marriage equality! My constituency MSP, Margaret Burgess (SNP, Cunninghame South) told me in her reply that she would vote for it, but I notice she’s not signed your pledge.

          13. Equality Network 24 May 2012, 7:54pm

            Thanks, BennieM!

    5. It’s not, but it takes the wind out the sails of the Tory MPs who oppose it from trying to use their influence to get the government to drop it, instead they can oppose it in the House and fail.

      Allowing a free vote increases the chances of it getting on the statute book by 2015 so I have no issue with Cameron’s political positioning on this.

    6. New Aussie 25 May 2012, 4:23am

      As a convention votes on gay rights issues in the house of commons have nearly always been free votes and considered conscience issues. This is the same for any issue where religion means a conflict for some MPs between their faith and their party. And don’t personally think it would ever be right to exercise a three line whip to force MPs to vote against deeply held beliefs.

    7. Its a much an issue of conscience as the death penalty and equalisation of the age of consent and we won both of those votes.

      I see no reason to be concerned by a vote on conscience in the Commons. Equal marriage will be voted in, in the Commons.

  2. Wan’t the whole free vote thing out there a long time ago. i seem to remember it being discussed on Newsnight months ago?

    1. bobbleobble 24 May 2012, 10:29am

      I thought that too. Cameron has no choice but to allow a free vote. If all ministers were expected to vote in favour then what happens to those who won’t? There’d be mass resignations and Cameron would look ridiculous. At least now he can get the legislation through without losing ministers at the same time.

    2. Yes as I recall it was made clear from the start of this process that it would be a free vote and the whip would not be used. The one thing that can be said for a free vote is that at the end of it, we have a clear view of the bigots in the party, they can’t hide behind a whipped vote.

    3. Thinking about it it definitely was. That idiot Bone fellow was on there, I remember criticising him for using that dubious ComRes poll figure to support his point. This isn’t new information the BBC has managed to obtain from anywhere, they’ve had it for months.

  3. Mumbo Jumbo 24 May 2012, 10:26am

    Someone should send this to all MPs thinking of voting against:

    http://goo.gl/JC55F

    1. I agree, but you have to have a conscience in the first place to vote on something that is supposedly a “matter of conscience”. The homophobes have no conscience they only have dogma.

  4. This issue should not be a free vote as it is not an issue of conscience but a basic human right. It should not even be on par with abortion!

    1. theotherone 24 May 2012, 12:09pm

      ‘It should not even be on par with abortion!’

      Why? Is abortion not a human right too?

      1. Jock S. Trap 25 May 2012, 5:12pm

        Is it right that human rights and a basic right to life only come after we’re born?

    2. New Aussie 25 May 2012, 4:26am

      Sigh, votes on gay rights in the UK parliament have always been conscience votes where MPs are unwhipped. Do you really think it would be just and right to impose a three line whip on people whose religious faiths make it very difficult for them to support gay marriage?

      1. Many Liberal Democrats’ beliefs made it incredibly hard for them to support tuition fees when they’d just signed a pledge promising to vote against them. They still had to do it because it was coalition policy. I don’t see why it should be any different for gay marriage.

        And Bible-wise, gay marriage is as much an ‘issue of conscience’ as the sale of pork. Jesus said nothing about it. Jesus did, however, say quite a lot about helping poor/sick people. But religious coalition MPs aren’t allowed to back out of supporting benefit reductions for disabled people.

        And anyway, MPs don’t get 60k a year to represent their own religious views. They get it to represent their constituents. And their constituents really voted for their party, not them.

  5. I think the PM did the right thing.

    Then we can campaign against all those who revealed their bigotry publicly.

    And yes, send this :
    http://goo.gl/JC55F

    To all those who say they will vote against.

  6. I fail to see how this is an issue of conscience like abortion, absolutely intolerable language..

  7. and what are the lib dem and labour parties going to do… a free vote? I’ve had emails from Libdem ministers who have said they are voting for equal marriage simply becuase they are ministers and it wasn’t a matter of whether they approved of equal marriage or not.

    I’ve also had an email from a labour front bencher who said they won’t sign the C4EM petition unless they have have a full consensus on the frontbench. Why isn’t this forthcoming from them?

    I’ve given up on the diehard Tories and puting my hopes and energy into the libdems and labour getting the numbers for equal marriage.

    Yes, the cons have improved but DC letting the ministers, who quite frankly have never voted for gay rights in their entire lives, getting away with this again under the pretence of having a conscience, is pathetic.

  8. Gay activist Paul Mitchell 24 May 2012, 10:43am

    High time for marriage equality!

    Marriage equality is long overdue!

  9. Gay activist Paul Mitchell 24 May 2012, 10:50am

    Gunersey needs to implement civil partnerships now! Gunersey needs to catch up, but wait Gunersey might beat the UK itself on marriage equality. Civil partnerships were introduced in 2005 and since then the Isle of Man in 2011, Ireland in 2011 and Jersey in 2012 have implemented civil partnerships as well!

    1. It would look a bit stupid now if Guernsey went for civil partnerships. They need to go straight for full marriage.

  10. I’ve got no problem with this. In fact, I always assumed it would be a free vote. At least there is definitely going to be a vote! There are a lot of bigots in parliament but they are in the minority. They will lose the vote and the victory for equality and civil rights will be sweeter because nobody will be able to say that MPs’ arms were twisted.

  11. Not surprised, this was always going to be a free vote (although I fail to understand why – but it was always going to be the case).

    There is no volte face.

    This “volte face” is what ignorant right wingers will try and claim it is.

    The arithmetic strongly suggests the vote will be won in the Commons.

    What is good about todays decision is it confirms that the government are going to bring forward legislation – now didnt right wingers try to claim it was being swept away – how wrong they were!

    1. I agree, Stu. Ever since the local council elections a few weeks ago, there have been numerous scare stories about how there are signs that the Tories are going to drop marrige equality when in reality, they’ve suggested no such thing. Yes, there have been backbenchers making noises and MPs declaring that they’re opposed to it, but that doesn’t mean it will be dropped.

      The exact same reasons given for the Tories being seen to drop the policy are also applicable to Scotland yet nobody claims it’s about to be dropped there, in fact, it’s seen as a done deal. It doesn’t make sense why a free vote means the Tories in Westminster are about to drop it when a free vote in Scotland means it’s definitely going ahead!

      I realise that my view on the coalition’s committment to marriage equality is the polar opposite of my worries of the situation in Scotland, but the coalition have said right from the start that it IS going to happen while the SNP have still to make up their mind.

      1. I think you have some reasonable points. Why don’t you see if you can put down your thoughts on the political situation in Scotland on marriage and submit your comment to PN for publication. I have done that in the past on other issues and had two articles published. The comments articles often attract a lot of debate – so you may raise the profile of the issue.

        1. Thanks, Stu, I’ll certainly give that some thought.

          I know I go on about this a lot, but I’m just worried that it won’t go ahead in Scotland!

          Interestingly, though, I am a lot more objective about the situation in England/Wales – not because I don’t care about it, of course I do, but it’s probably because I’m a step removed from it. I actually have more confidence in the coalition government over marriage equality than I do in the Scot Gov!

          1. Maybe thats one of the reasons I am confident about Scotland?

            Although, as you know I am confident that fairness will prevail across England Scotland and Wales.

          2. Are you this confident in general, Stu? I always tend to be pessimistic and fear the worst in most situations, I’m afraid!

            As for this issue in particular, I think I’m too close to the situation in Scotland, particularly given my views on the SNP and their committment to LGBT equality.

            I realise I do tend to be very critical, perhaps sometimes too much, but it comes from being a former loyal supporter of the SNP since I was a teenager, who thought they could do no wrong. It was only when they happily took Souter’s money in 2007 that I felt I could no longer support them as a gay man, and it was a big shock, finding out the party I supported faithfully could be so easy going about homophobia.

          3. BennieM

            I usually am a glass half full type of guy – although I sometimes have my moments!

            I can also be accused of being very critical if I am closely involved in something, sometimes those accusations are fair.

            I am positive about LGBT issues across the UK and wider afield currently.

            Did you see my review of countries considering equal marriage on a discussion thread last weekend?

        2. @Stu

          I’m definately a glass half empty person, about everything, not just LGBT issues!

          I have been very surprised in recent weeks by the amount of people speaking out in favour of marriage equality. I mean, the President of the USA saying he’s in favour of marriage equality in an election year? I never thought I’d see that!

          I did see your list, it was very long, much longer than I’d have expected!

          These things do give me hope for LGBT equality in general, especially in western countries. Although, that word “considering” does annoy me! I’d rather they’d just go ahead and do it!

          1. @BennieM

            It would be boring if we were all the same in views or attitudes!

            I think the list of people supporting equal marriage internationally in the last few weeks has been amazing – Richard Branson, Barrack Obama, Colin Powell, Theresa May, David Cameron, Will Smith, etc

            It was a very long list – some of the countries (perhaps 20-25) are very much on the road the other 20-25 are considering, but given that some were very surprising eg Namibia, Nepal, Cambodia, Serbia, Albania etc … I thought that was progress. I would prefer they just got on with it though!

  12. human rights and equality are NEVER a matter of “conscience”.

    what a totally revolting thing to say.

  13. Way to be a letdown. Yet another disappointment from the Tories.

    1. Dan Jenkins 24 May 2012, 11:29am

      It was always going to be a free vote, they announced this at the start of the consultation.

      If the legislation is put before Parliament there will be a majority in favour, so I fail to see how this is a disappointment for you

      1. Jock S. Trap 31 May 2012, 11:46am

        Yeah, best to wait before we shot em down eh?

  14. This is no bad thing for us. By promising a free vote he has reaffirmed his promise to have a vote at all, something that in the last week or so I had been beginning to wonder about.

    In any case, I suspect around half of the Tories, a substantial majority of Labour, and all the Lib Dems will vote in favour, so the bill will pass even if a majority of the Tories vote against it.

    But by voting against vocal support from the party leadership, they’ll be making it less likely that they’ll advance to a position of power within the party. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

    1. Dr Robin Guthrie 24 May 2012, 11:59am

      I see the Odone creature in the Terrorgraph is painting this as a complete U turn by Cameron.

      How I hate that bigoted adulteress.

      http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/cristinaodone/100160334/tolerance-but-only-for-appropriate-groups/

      1. bobbleobble 24 May 2012, 12:12pm

        I amazes me how people like her and Dorries and Roger Gale etc, who have scant regard for the so called sanctity of marriage, can say this sort of thing and hold their heads up in public. Utter hypocrites the lot of them.

        1. Robert in S. Kensington 24 May 2012, 12:55pm

          What galls me is that none of the MPs supporting equal marriage are going after them and addressing what I would call ‘anti-marriage’ behaviour in the form of adultery and in Gale’s case, serial adultery. It needs to be spelled out loud and clear to expose their blatant hypocrisy.

          1. In one sense I like that we are not resorting to those sort of dirty tactics and instead concentrating on the reasonableness and integrity of campaigning on the issue.

          2. @Stu

            I think that the people who are speaking out against marriage equality while having had affairs and divorces themselves should be challenged on it.

            They chose to go into politics and also chose to be so vocal in opposing marriage equality, and their arguments are always about preserving the sanctity of marriage and so on yet they have no issue with their own affairs or divorces having an affect on the sanctity of marriage.

            When what they say is in direct contrast to how they live their own lives, then they deserve to be challenged on it.

  15. I always thought there was going to be a free vote for the backbenchers, isn’t the story about the fact that the ministers who normally vote for a govt policy are also going to get a free vote?

    What would happen if there was a free vote on the budget, sending more troops to Afghanistan (surely a conscience vote if ever I saw one) etc etc… What if the libdem ministers decide they don’t want to vote for govt policies? An agreement is an agreement, the ministers should tow the line….

  16. theotherone 24 May 2012, 11:57am

    this is hardly a surprise and it’s the right thing to do.

  17. This is not an issue of conscience. Ministers should follow government policy. If they can not do this resign. You know if it passes the Cameroon will claim all the credit. The majority of votes on this issues will be opposition votes plus the Lib Dems.

  18. Marriage has been the covenant between a man and a woman for as long as human history exists, the concession is that ministers will not be whipped into following the government line, when and if they drop the vote then the status quo will be maintained for now, that’s all.

    People are being harassed by government and non-government agencies for daring to speak in favour of one man and one woman marriage, it’s not one group that is being harassed it is anyone with the guts to stand up to groups like Stonewall. I doubt there is a pressure group in the world who has played the victim card harder than the homosexual community.

    I am genuinely glad if that act is now going to be dropped, somehow I doubt it.

    1. bobbleobble 24 May 2012, 12:33pm

      Accusing others of playing the victim card whilst playing it yourself, I believe that may be a definition of irony.

      If (and I mean IF) marriage has been a covenant between a man and a woman forever does that mean it must remain that way? Have gay couples always been treated equally throughout that time? No is the answer.

      You’re mistaking people demanding what should be ours fo harrassment but then that doesn’t surprise me, anytime Christians don’t get their way they tend to play the victim card. And of crouse the anti-gay marriage brigade are totally blameless in all of this, it’s not like they keep coming up with increasingly more and more desperate and bogus arguments against gay people getting married now is it?

    2. Gay marriage has been accepted in Christianity long before it was taken over by homophobic bigots.

      http://www.jinxiboo.com/blog/2009/5/3/when-same-sex-marriage-was-a-christian-rite.html

      A Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai in Israel. It shows two robed Christian saints. The pronubus is Christ. The married couple are both men…

      In the definitive 10th century account of their lives, St. Sergius is openly celebrated as the “sweet companion and lover” of St. Bacchus. The oldest text of their martyrology, written in New Testament Greek describes them as “erastai,” or “lovers”. Their orientation and relationship was not only acknowledged, but it was fully accepted and celebrated by the early Christians.

      Prof. John Boswell discovered… in ancient Christian documents, there were also ceremonies called the the “Office of Same-Sex Union” (10th and 11th century), and the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century).

    3. “I am genuinely glad if that act is now going to be dropped, somehow I doubt it.”

      You’d be right to doubt it. When it happens you’ll get over it, as all you bigots do.

    4. I am genuinely glad that your hope that the act is to be dropped has been shown to be misplaced hope, Richard.

      The Home Secretary has reiterated her intension to ensure fairness and equality in civil marriage.

    5. Same sex couples can already get married in many nations – it’s going to happen in the UK – GET OVER IT.

    6. Jock S. Trap 25 May 2012, 5:20pm

      Actually its been for as long as religion exists in some parts. Fact humanity and it’s existence far exceeds religion and if religion can dictate and change how marriage is covered to please themselves I don’t see how or why there’s a problem to take it back to it’s original form.

      Typical religious bigots who think their twisted discriminating religious beliefs outweight a stronger stabile society where people who love each other can marry… regardless of orientation.

    7. Jock S. Trap 25 May 2012, 5:31pm

      People are not being harrassed for daring to speak in favour of one man and one woman it’s just people like you can’t stand others being in love and being about to choose to show it in marriage. People like you use words like harrassed when what it’s all about is you having temper tantrums because you aren’t getting your way. Nothing more.

      It’s very much the spoilt brat throwing there toys out of the pram syndrome.

    8. Jock S. Trap 25 May 2012, 5:33pm

      Remember the advice nowadays is to not pamper a crying baby that crave attention… Try and ignore it and it’s quiet down and go to sleep and learn not everything in life comes from attention seeking.

      People like you are no different to that crying baby.

  19. Robert in S. Kensington 24 May 2012, 12:32pm

    I wonder what the outcome will be in the House of Lords once it passes in the Commons? Would Cameron be prepared to invoke the Parliament Act if it were to fail?

    1. bobbleobble 24 May 2012, 12:36pm

      If he wants to get it through he’ll probably have to. The problem is that the Lords can hold up legislation for up to two years. If Cameron’s going to get this through by 2015 he’ll have to have something ready for a vote by next May.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 24 May 2012, 12:38pm

        I think the 2 year wait has been reduced to 1 year, though I could be wrong. From my limited knowledge, I believe a first draft of a bill is expected sometime in the Autumn, before year’s end at least, so it’s quite possible a vote could come by next May.

        1. bobbleobble 24 May 2012, 12:57pm

          My limited understanding of the Parliament Act is from Public Law classes over 10 years ago so you could well be right about the reduction. I still think though that to get this through Cameron needs to have it in the Queen’s speech next year and have a bill ready for votes in May.

        2. Tim Hopkins 24 May 2012, 1:06pm

          It takes one extra year to use the Parliament Acts. The Commons must pass an identical bill two years in a row, and then it can become law without Lords approval. The Commons must give notice of the intention to do that before the end of the first year I think.

          Seems fairly unlikely that the Westminster equal marriage bill will be before next May, since it wasn’t mentioned in the queen’s speech? If it was the following year, then I think the Parliament Acts could still be invoked during the slighly shortened 2014-15 year.

  20. This is something that everyone reading this and bitching can actually DO SOMETHING ABOUT RIGHT NOW.

    Write or email your local MP. Explain that you’re a constituent and politely explain that (1) being denied the same right to marry as everyone else is hurtful to you and your friends (2) civil partnerships are “separate and unequal” (3) equal civil marriage will have absolutely no effect on religious marriages. Two others points I made was that civil partnerships were not recognized overseas, and that those who claim civil partnerships are adequate wouldn’t be willing to swap their own marriages for a partnership.

    Urge your MP to support civil marriage equality, keep it polite, tell your own story in your own words, and include your address. If an armchair internet addict like me can do this, you can too. I just got a response from my own local (Conservative) MP saying he would be supporting the bill.

    1. and post/tell the C4EM guys what the response was….

      http://www.c4em.org.uk/support-for-equal-marriage/

      mps@c4em.org.uk

      Who was your cons MP? We alll need to know who are and are not supporting equal marriage!

    2. Equality Network 24 May 2012, 1:12pm

      And if you’re in Scotland, you can write to your MSPs from here:

      http://www.equalmarriage.org.uk/takeaction

      and you can see whether your MSPs have said they will support or oppose equal marriage here:

      http://www.equalmarriage.org.uk/support

    3. Robert in S. Kensington 24 May 2012, 2:30pm

      There is precious little portability for CPs outside the UK. All of the rights therein are not reciprocated, e.g. France’s PACs which carry far fewer than CPs. The opponents of equal marriage don’t see the larger picture, in fact, refuse to see it because they’re blinded by their own prejudice and religious beliefs and do not even equate equal marriage as a civil issue. You’re right, none of them would be prepared to swap their marriages for one, nor are they demanding them as an alternative. If you asked any of them if they would be prepared to have a CP instead of marriage considering that they view them as equal, then I think we know what their response would be. They would probably not even be able to provide you with a plausible reason as to why they wouldn’t opt for one.

  21. OK everyone- but hasn’t it still got to get through the HOUSE OF LORDS? that’s where Clause 28 repeal came unstuck- twice!

    1. bobbleobble 24 May 2012, 1:01pm

      Cameron will be able to use the Parliament Act to get it through the House of Lords but he has to be canny about when he gets the legislative process on this going in the Commons.

      The Parliament Act couldn’t be used on the first couple of attempts at repeal because of the way the legislation was laid before Parliament. But for a public bill which is initiated in the Commons the Parliament Act can be used if a bill is rejected twice by the Lords.

      1. New Aussie 24 May 2012, 1:47pm

        Cameron would be a fool to use the parliament act. He does not have the support of his own MPs (unlike Blair when he used it) so it would finish him politically if he used it.

        There is also a constitutional problem with use or overuse of the Parliament Act. People should really be looking hard at what value the Lords actually brings us. I would hazard that it brings none and rather than reform it, I would abolish it.

        It dismays me that nobody is even considering this as an option

        1. The Parliament Act in the amended form of the 1911 act has been used four times. I hardly consider that constitutes overuse.

          The difference with DC is that he is not just a party leader but a coalition leader and thus he may be excused using the parliament act for an issue of integrity and fairness.

        2. bobbleobble 24 May 2012, 3:08pm

          If he won’t use the Parliament Act then this simply isn’t going to happen. The Lords will block it at every turn. It is also arguable that it was part of the Conservative Party platform at the last election thanks to their extra manifesto on fairness that they launched close to the election.

          1. I suspect if the Commons back it – and I strongly believe they will – probably resoundingly, then Cameron will try to get it through the Lords without the use of the Parliament Act – but if pushed will use it.

          2. New Aussie 25 May 2012, 4:30am

            The conservative party has NEVER supported gay marriage FFS. Why won’t you people get this? It was not in any manifesto and it has not subsequently been adopted as party policy since

          3. New Aussie

            I give a much more detailed response below as to why there was a manifesto commitment to equal marriage by the Conservatives.

      2. New Aussie 24 May 2012, 2:19pm

        Also note that the parliament act can only be used on policies clearly in the manifesto of the governing party. That was how labour could use it for the age of consent, clause 28 and fox hunting. Gay marriage was a LibDem policy and not a conservative policy so it would be tenuous justification for using it.

        1. New Aussie

          It was in the addendum to the Conservative manifesto – the equality manifesto.

          1. Robert in S. Kensington 24 May 2012, 4:50pm

            Exactly right, Stu, it was.

          2. New Aussie 25 May 2012, 4:56am

            The equality manifesto DID NOT have gay marriage as a policy. Only the LibDems and the Greens went in to the last election with that as a policy. the equality manifesto only had a weak provision for the consideration of options through a public consultation, something they are already doing. A hostile parliamentary lawyer would be unlikely to be persuaded that the present government, other than the LibDem component, we’re elected on a platform to introduce gay marriage.

          3. The exact wording in the equality manifesto was

            “We will also actively consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage”.

            Given that in the general manifesto they also stated they would consider police commissioners, consider how to ensure economic growth, consider free schools ….

            It seems to have to same level of pledge as some of their so called key policies.

  22. New Aussie 24 May 2012, 1:44pm

    Why does pink news consistently seem to imagine that the coalition is the same thing as the conservative party. equal marriage is a coalition policy proposed by the LibDems and supported by most ofthe Tory front bench. It has not however ever been Tory policy and in fact has never commanded more than minority support in the Tory party. A free vote is Cameron’s only option on this issue and is in line with all previous votes on conscience issues.

    Note though that it is not he parliamentary vote that will be the problem. Labour, LibDem, SNP, plaid and green will all vote in favour so even if only a small minority of Tories support it, the vote will pass. No, it is in the Lords where there will be very severe problems with a majority in the upper house likely to vote down the bill.

    1. The libdem policy is equal CP and marriage for all. The coalition policy which is Tory and Libdem is equal CIVIL marriage only. They’re not the same and why do you say that policy was proposed by libdems? It’s a joint one.

      You don’t know how many Tory MPs support it or ever have. SNP won’t vote on Welsh and English policy. Not all labour or even possibly plaid or libdems will vote for it. We don’t know.

      A free vote yes but why for the ministers on a coalition policy?

      1. New Aussie 25 May 2012, 4:36am

        Why do I say it? Because it is an open secret that Clegg set three (or possibly more) conditions on the coalition agreement:

        1. Proportional vote reform – resulted in the coalition policy of a referendum on AV
        2. Gay marriage and straight civil partnerships – resulted in a coalition policy of a public consultation before policy would be decided ( that consultation finishes in a little over a fortnight)
        4. Lords reform – resulted Ian. Hotly contested review leading to a referendum that looks as if it may be totally ditched.

      2. New Aussie 25 May 2012, 4:43am

        Also, I suggest you look at the last decades worth of parliamentary votes on gay rights issues. While I would expect the Tory patterns to change a bit with the modernising influence of the new intake and some of the old guard changing their minds I would still expect around half of Tories or more to still vote against gay marriage. For Labour you will see in vote after vote after vote that not more than a tiny handful ever voted against gay rights in the last decade. I do not expect that to chand this time personally and the vote could probably be won on the votes of modernising Tories plus the mass of labour MPs alone. But there will be additional votes from the smaller parties, particularly since Teh LibDems, plaid and the SNP all say they support gay marriage.

        1. The SNP MPs do not vote on legislation that does not cover Scotland. There are only 6 SNP MPs so they wouldn’t make much difference. And there’s no guarantee they would all vote in favour. The SNP doesn’t actually have a party position on marriage equality and all SNP MSPs will have a free vote on it.

    2. The Lords isn’t a problem, since the 1911 parliament act the Lords can only send the bill back three times to be ‘reviewed’ or ‘altered’. The bill won’t be altered, and the government also have the power to guillotine the bill through even if the Lords reject it.
      The Lords are powerless in this, there is no need to worry.

      1. New Aussie 25 May 2012, 4:47am

        While you are correct, this would require the government to go right up to the wire with the maximum parliamentary allowance of time for the bill. This is actually a costly business, which is why Blair came in for such a lot of flak for using the Parliament Act three times. More often, governments will shelve or delay bills indefinitely when they meet unmoveable opposition in the House of Lords.

        1. Tim Hopkins 25 May 2012, 7:57am

          You’re right about the short time available, although I think the 1948 Parliament Act changed three times (ie, three years in a row) to twice. A bill can be passed by invoking the Parliament Acts if the Commons passes it two years in a row, even if the Lords rejects it.

        2. However, regardless of the strength of Tory support or their reasons for doing so – if as you state (and I agree) it is one of the lines in the sand for the Lib Dems – surely a pragmatic Conservative and coalition PM would consider trying to use all tactics to shore up his coalition if this was an issue his coalition partners may dissolve the partnership if not achieved appropriately?

    3. It is SNP policy that their MPs don’t vote on legislation which doesn’t cover Scotland.

      But even if they did vote, they only have 6 MPs in Westminster, so their votes would only make a difference it was extremely close.

      Also, there’s no guarantee all the SNP MPs would vote for it. Only one of the 6 MPs(Stewart Hosie who’s still an MP) they had in 2007 voted in favour of the equality legislation at the time. One voted against (Angus MacNeil who’s still an MP) and the other 4, including Alex Salmond, didn’t vote at all.

      1. New Aussie 25 May 2012, 4:49am

        Yes, sorry you are correct. Still I do not think the vote would depend on them anyway. All the signs strongly suggest a big commons majority even if there are widespread abstentions or votes against from the Tories.

        1. I agree there will be an overwhelming commons majority.

          1. Yes, I’ve also maintained that if it does get as far as a vote then it WILL get through – both in Westminster & Holyrood. My only concern (and it’s just a small concern) is either govt dropping it before then.

  23. Now that this is to be a matter of conscience for MPs, the legislation should reflect this and allow for marriages performed by those religious sects who want to do it.
    If this were solely a matter of passing civil marriage for gay/lesbian couples, then the argument could be made very strongly that it is a civil rights issue that has no ‘conscience’ implications.
    However, if this is a ‘conscience’ vote, then it immediately becomes a religious issue in which MPs are called on to support religions/sects that either agree with or want to continue discriminating against gay/lesbian couples.
    If anti-gay/lesbian MPs are able to use their consciences to vote against same-sex marriage under any circumstances, then pro-gay/lesbian MPs must be given the option to vote for a matter that extends to right to marry same-sex couples to any religious institution that wants it.

    1. Basically, if a pro-gay/lesbian Act goes through, those bigoted/homophobic/sincerely questioning MPs voting against it will lose the ability to discriminate not only against lesbians and gays, but also religions they don’t like.
      And then we can point out that karma’s a bitch (although that’s probably the wrong religion for most of them).

  24. This is strategic – the government is avoiding hassle from Tory MPs who will rebel at being herded into the government lobby, and I agree with those who say that human rights should be a matter of government policy, not a free vote.
    But in another way I am glad. It will pass with a clear majority in this parliament, and will be clearly parliament’s will, not a ‘whipped’ government issue.

  25. Call me a cynic but I always had a feeling that DC was making all the right noises, safe in the knowledge that his backbenchers would vote it down. Then he could say how sorry he was but that’s democracy for you.

    I hope I am wrong.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 24 May 2012, 4:48pm

      Let’s hope you are proved wrong. If you’re right, then we will just have to keep pushing harder until it’s legal. It’s inevitable and the naysayers know it whether they like it or not which explains why there is so much dissent among them.

    2. I certainly believe you are wrong and I believe it will become law, and that in terms of the Commons the arithmetic shows a win already. We need to make sure that improves even further!

      However, in the event I am wrong and your prediction were to prove correct, then Robert is spot on. The momentum has begun – we ramp it up and do not give in until equality occurs. The Tories would be dead in the water as far as most LGBT votes are concerned if they fail to deliver on this promise.

  26. Robert in S. Kensington 24 May 2012, 5:07pm

    Much as I doni’t care for a free vote, I believe the majority of the ten countries where equal marriage has been introduced did exactly that with the exception of South Africa where it was legislated by the Supreme Court. Australia is to have a free vote too.

    1. It does give the benefit of being able to say that the law was brought in with the free will of parliament.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 24 May 2012, 5:46pm

        True, but I’d feel a lot better about it if the majority of the Tories were supportive, at least 51% but I suspect it’s far lower. Hopefull as the vote gets nearer, that figure might be attained or surpassed.

        1. And even if its not – all we need is a majority of MPs not a majority of Tories.

    2. I really am in two minds about this. On the one hand can you imaging a political party saying about an equality issue involving race – ‘We leave it up to your individual conscience’! On the other hand this will clearly show up the bigots for what they are and many MPs will think twice when they are looking at the increasing number of their constituents who have no issue with it – increasingly the younger voters. I am cautiously hopeful.

  27. Every right-wing commentator:

    “Ooh! Those uppity ‘gay’ oiks demanding an equal slice of the pie! (Despite nothing being taken from OUR plates.)

    “How VERY DARE THEY!!!”

    “Homo-sexuality should be left in the dorm rooms of boarding school where it belongs! (Before we marry an heiress or our trust fund/inheritance is put in jeopardy after being caught playing ‘hide the sausage’ with Joffers after rugger.)

    Where would the country be if we’re all as SELFISH as the ‘gays’?!!”

    *bursts blood vessel*

  28. Alas it comes as no surprise. I think, given the Lib Dems and Labour support it that it should pass without too many problems. Delighted that Teresa May has come out in favour.
    Expect to see more backsliding by Cameron on this one.

    1. I do not expect any “backsliding” as you put it by Cameron.

      The free vote is not a change in plan – not a concession – it is what was intended.

      1. Here is a story from March where a free vote was discussed:

        http://www.channel4.com/news/gay-marriage-consultation-launched

  29. I new we would never get equality under a conservative government.

    Hideous

    1. How does this mean there will be no equal marriage under this government – this is no change on what was planned and every indication is that the Commons vote will be won in favour of equal marriage

      1. Well every honest indication!

  30. Ummm…. I’m not going into the strategic rights or wrongs of this being a conscience vote, but I seem to recall Cameron saying in an interview with Gay Times (?) back in 2010 that the cabinet would be whipped to support same-sex marriage. I could be wrong on this, but I seem to remember that being a gist of a promise to the gay population.
    I’m quite happy to be proved wrong on this (I couldn’t find a reference to the article after a brief internet search).

    1. Don’t remember that – but I shall go and look it up!

  31. Cameron must resist this demand. Free votes are held where MPs have genuine reasons not to want to vote along with their leadership on a matter of conscience. But not all consciences are equal. Where there exists some sort of argument on either side of an issue (like capital punishment), it makes some sense to let MPs exercise their judgement. But parties should not give members of parliament infinite scope to inflict their bigotry or stupidity on the rest of us. Indeed, they don’t: we have a whip system where MPs are strongly “encouraged” to toe the party line in the majority of votes. This system should quite clearly be brought to bear in the case of gay marriage, for the very simple reason that every single argument against gay marriage would be dismissed by a vaguely intelligent person after a moment’s thought.

    Think about the arguments against gay marriage. “Marriage has always been a union between a man and a woman”: this is both false (polygamy, anyone?) and irrelevant (that

    1. something has always been done a certain way clearly doesn’t mean we should keep doing it, otherwise we should have never abolished slavery). “This redefines marriage”: irrelevant (yes, it does change the definition of marriage, the definition needs changing, that’s the point). “Same-sex parents are worse”: both deeply questionable empirically, and irrelevant, as adoption agencies can decide the best parents for a particular child on a case-by-case basis, and because adoption by same-sex couples is already legal anyway. “The Bible doesn’t allow for same sex marriage”: irrelevant, because we’re not forcing Christians to marry other people of the same gender, and the days when the Bible could dictate the lives of non-believers have thankfully been consigned to the dustbin. “Same-sex relationships are less stable”: again probably false, but also irrelevant, as we don’t apply that standard to heterosexuals, plenty of whom end up getting divorced.

      There are simply no reasons to oppose gay

    2. marriage that constitute a legitimate grounds for restricting people’s freedom and equality. So why not whip MPs into voting for it? Such a move would obviously not be undemocratic: virtually all laws are made in this way. Cameron has already taken an admirable stance on this issue. It would be a shame if such a progressive move were put at risk when literally every argument against it is spurious.

    3. Jock S. Trap 31 May 2012, 11:40am

      Actually it would be good to see who votes for and against after we’ve won it.

  32. Jock S. Trap 31 May 2012, 11:39am

    Don’t think David Cameron would be doing this unless he thought he was going to win it somehow.

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