This week could be one of the most significant in deciding the outcome of the next general election. The pivotal issue is not the economy, the NHS or Europe. The issue is gay marriage.
I am not going to set out here why I support gay marriage (although I do) or explain why the legislation deserves the support of all MPs and Peers, (although I believe it does) but instead to say what I think this issue says about our country and how the political case for reform is a no brainer.
I believe as strongly as I believe anything that the country of my birth is the greatest on earth and the best place to live and work. Despite the efforts of a few, this is a wonderfully open, free, fair and liberal country with fabulous, rich diversity; all different kinds of people, living all kinds of different lives. I love that about the United Kingdom; we unite around common values, a sense of fair play, a respect for each other.
If this Bill is defeated- which I don’t believe it will be- it will undermine those things that make me proud of this country. Politically, those who vote no this week, will rue the day. They may not realise it as they cast their vote, but that decision will hang around their necks like a millstone. It will say that they believe the values of this country do not apply to all. It will say something about how fairly they think people should be treated. It will not be remembered as a vote of conscience but as a vote of injustice.
This vote is another milestone on our journey as a country to further social change and inclusion. In five or ten years, those no voters will look so out of touch with their fellow citizens they will not be recognisbale as representing them. It may not take five or ten years. Every candidate or MP who voted no, or would have voted no, will find that vote mentioned in every leaflet, attack advert and public meeting at the next election. They will be asked why their neighbour, their party’s traditional supporter, or their campaign helper shouldn’t be allowed to marry the person they love just because they are the same sex. The voters will just not buy it because this issue is about people and fairness and that is something the british people get. Given the choice, they will vote for fairness because they too have gay neighbours, relatives, friends and workmates and they want them to live in a country where they are treated fairly.
Forget the moral case for a yes vote for a moment- hard though that is. The political case speaks for itself.