Merry England Fights Over Gay Marriage | Greg Daly | Catholic World Report
Prime Minister David Cameron and other government leaders push for same-sex marriage, but most Brits are wary.
The contrast could hardly have been more jarring.
In a televised White House interview on Wednesday, May 9, President Barack Obama claimed that, having gone through an evolution on the issue, he had concluded, “it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
That same day, an ocean away in England, Queen Elizabeth II opened the current session of Parliament, for the 60th time in her reign sitting in her House of Lords throne to proclaim her government’s legislative program for that year. Wearing her Imperial State Crown and parliamentary robe, she spoke for eight minutes, and on the issue of same-sex marriage, said absolutely nothing.
Cameron’s cynical campaign
The Home Office claims the government never intended to include same-sex marriage in this year’s legislative program, but it is beginning to look as if Prime Minister David Cameron’s wish to redefine marriage in English law is set to end, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
Cameron’s campaign had always looked like a cynical vanity project, given how the 2004 Civil Partnerships Act enables same-sex couples to make a public declaration of their commitment and avail themselves of the same legal rights as married couples. When then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government introduced that legislation, it insisted that although the new scheme gave same-sex couples equal rights and privileges to married ones, civil partnerships and marriages were not the same thing.
Stonewall, Britain’s leading gay lobby group, was so content with this arrangement that in September 2010, its chief executive Ben Summerskill publicly opposed the newly-declared wish of the Liberal Democrats—the junior partner in Britain’s Conservative-led coalition government—to redefine marriage and civil partnerships so that same-sex and opposite-sex couples could choose which arrangement they wished to enter. Claiming this could cost as much as £5 billion and noting that a cosmetic marital reform was hardly a priority for the gay movement, Summerskill pointed out that many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people were opposed to same-sex couples participating in “something that is either the same as or synonymous with marriage.”
Even without Stonewall’s opposition, the Liberal Democrats’ original proposal to redefine marriage looked purely aspirational without a popular mandate; the introduction of same-sex marriage had been conspicuously absent from the manifestos of Britain’s three main parties in the general election that had been held just months earlier.
On September 17, 2011 the Liberal Democrat equalities minister Lynne Featherstone announced at her party’s annual conference that the government would begin a formal consultation this March on how to introduce same-sex marriage into UK law by the end of this parliament. “This is a Liberal Democrat policy,” she said. “But now it is a policy being put into action.”
This time Stonewall approved, and scarcely two weeks later, David Cameron proclaimed at the Conservatives’ conference, “I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.”