A new book published on the “inside story of the coalition government” has claimed that David Cameron’s support for same-sex marriage provoked such a backlash from Tory party members that he almost wondered whether it was worth the cost.
Throughout the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which received royal assent in July, support from the Tory party has always been ambiguous, despite a strong backing from its leader David Cameron.
In the Commons, for instance, no fewer than 136 Tories opposed the act, outweighing the 127 members who voted in its favour.
British Journalist Matthew d’Ancona, in his new book ‘In It Together,’ now claims that although Cameron remained firmly in support of same-sex marriages throughout, resistances from Tory party members almost made him doubt whether it was worth the cost.
He writes: “Behind the scenes, Cameron would later concede that his political antennae had failed him in this instance; he had lost contact with his own tribe.
“Months after the vote, he was still writing dozens of letters to activists and constituents seeking to allay their fears and to reassure them that what he was doing was authentically Conservative, and not a betrayal of the party’s most sacred beliefs. ‘I want this sorted out by July,’ he told his advisers.
“But it was clear that the ill-feeling the reform had sown in the Conservative Party would endure long after that.
In his bleaker private moments, Cameron became savagely self-critical about his misreading of the party on gay marriage. ‘This is down to me,’ he told one ally. ‘If I’d known what it was going to be like, I wouldn’t have done it.’”
Despite these revelations, however, Mr d’Ancona also notes the Prime Minister’s strong persistence in overcoming such doubts.
He writes that the Cameron’s support for same-sex marriage reflected a longstanding belief that the lifelong commitment of two men or of two women was worthy of the same kind of civil recognition as the marriage of a man and a woman.
He adds: “Whereas opponents of the measure saw it as the weakening of the most basic social unit, Cameron believed not only that human happiness would be enhanced, but that marriage itself would be strengthened.
“Those who said he had sprung this on his party – a typical stunt by the panicked metropolitan elite – had simply not been paying attention.”
He then notes that Cameron supported equal marriage legislation long before the same sex couples bill came into existence.
“As far back as the 2006 Tory conference, the new Tory leader had made a passionate defence of marriage, paused theatrically and added: “And by the way, it means something whether you’re a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and another man.’”
Such support comes also through in Cameron’s exclusive writing for PinkNews.co.uk as well, where in July he wrote: “Making marriage available to everyone says so much about the society that we are and the society that we want to live in – one which respects individuals regardless of their sexuality.
He added: “I have backed this reform because I believe in commitment, responsibility and family. I don’t want to see people’s love divided by law.”
In June he also wrote: “I think marriage is a wonderful institution; it helps people to commit to each other and it should be available to gay people and lesbians. I am proud of the work this government has done and is doing to allow gay and lesbian couples to have their love for each other recognised in this way.”