The House of Commons acquits itself well: a huge majority for equal rights. Good on David Cameron and the Conservative leadership for putting this through, which genuinely can’t have been easy within the Tory party.
Two particularly moving speeches came from Stephen Gilbert and Mike Freer.
The debate also showed the right wing (from all sides) at their most vile, curtain-twitching, and frankly creepy:
Most of them almost literally used the phrase ‘separate but equal’ with zero self-awareness or realisation about the baggage that concept has.
The old rich white men basically referred to their own poor wives as being primarily kept around for breeding purposes, which can’t have been particularly edifying for the women involved.
We got to enjoy some brazen hypocrisy from men on their own third marriages, serial adulteresses, and at least one Tory MP who cheats on his woman wife with men.
The hero of the debate was David Lammy, who spoke with righteous anger against the bigots of the No camp:
“There are still those who say it is unnecessary. “Why do we need gay marriage”, they say, “when we already have civil partnerships?” They are, they claim, “Separate but equal.” Let me speak frankly: separate but equal is a fraud. It is the language that tried to push Rosa Parks to the back of the bus. It is the motif that determined that black and white people could not possibly drink from the same water fountain, eat at the same table or use the same toilets. They are the words that justified sending black children to different schools from their white peers—schools that would fail them and condemn them to a life of poverty. It is an excerpt from the phrasebook of the segregationists and racists. It is the same statement, idea and delusion that we borrowed in this country to say that women could vote, but only if they were married and only when they were over 30. It is the same naivety that led to my dad being granted citizenship when he arrived here in 1956, but being refused by landlords who proclaimed, “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”.”
Also notable from the antis was a baffling assumption of their own victimhood. It’s hard to know how to deal with people like Stewart Jackson, who believes that giving gay people the right to marry is the literal equivalent of sending him, as a straight rich white man, to the back of the bus like Rosa Parkes, or the variety of bigots who whined that people were calling them bigots. I recently read a good blogpost called The Distress of the Privileged which highlights that it mostly isn’t these people’s fault that they’re like this, and that we should understand them and deal with the problem calmly and reasonably. I’m not sure about that; I don’t see why political violence is so frowned upon, and if they weren’t entirely irrelevant nowadays, culturally and legislatively, the guillotine would be a more efficient option.
Prizes for the most LOLsome contributions go to:
Labour’s Madeline Moon, who seems not to understand how being an MP works: “You will be remembered if you vote for this Bill. You will be held to account for it. We will tell your friends and family and we will not vote for you.”? This is a free vote. Members should be voting with their conscience…. not on the basis of threats to electoral prospects.”
David Simpson (DUP) for sounding the Adam and Steve klaxon and causing the whole world to spasm with angry mirth.
Ian Paisley Jr for maybe the most convoluted logic even by the low low standards of the anti’s debate: He doesn’t care if gays love each other, because “there are many arranged marriages and many marriages are loveless, but those people are still in law and by law married.”
I suppose I ought to mention the Lib Dem villains of the year: Alan Beith, Gordon Birtwistle, Sarah Teather and John Pugh.
The fact that any Liberal MP should vote in favour of discrimination and against equal civil rights for anybody is disgusting. I take it that this pretty much ends their careers in the party – I can’t imagine them ever living it down. I’d also expect party members to remember this when they are deciding how to volunteer their time. Gordon Birtwistle and Sarah Teather in particular are going to have major fights on their hands in the next election. I suggest we all leave them to it.