In view of the devastation inflicted on the Tory party by the gay-marriage issue, it is remarkable how little interest has been shown in the story that lies behind David Cameron’s desperation to get a measure – that was not mentioned in his 2010 election manifesto – on to the statute book by no later than June this year.
As I recounted here on February 9, the drive to get same-sex marriage into law was masterminded from 2010 onwards by an alliance between Theresa May, the Conservative Home Secretary, Lynne Featherstone, the Lib Dem equalities minister, and gay pressure groups, led by one called Equal Love. They pushed the issue forward, not in Westminster, but through the Council of Europe, culminating in March last year with a day-long “secret conference” chaired by Miss Featherstone in Strasbourg. With the public excluded for the first time in the Council’s history, it was here that – with the active support of Sir Nicolas Bratza, the British president of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – a deadline was set for their planned coup of June 2013. If, by this date, “several countries” had managed to put gay marriage into law, Sir Nicolas pledged that his court would then declare same-sex marriage to be a Europe-wide human right. Hence the recent rush for several countries to oblige, including France, where gay marriage has brought thousands of protesters out on to the streets. And hence last Tuesday’s unprecedented revolt in the House of Commons, when 133 Tories voted against their government.
They included Owen Paterson, the only Cabinet minister to vote for all the amendments moved by his parliamentary private secretary, David Burrowes, designed to give protection from intolerance to those opposed to same-sex marriage for reasons of conscience or principle.
An irony of all this was that among the amendments defeated by the Government was one proposing that heterosexuals should be given an equal right to homosexuals to enter into civil partnerships.Originally, in 2010, Theresa May had been all for this, as was Equal Love, which supported a case by eight gay and non-gay couples to be taken to the ECHR. But when the Government checked the financial implications of allowing non-gay couples to enjoy civil partnerships, finding that the resulting tax privileges could cost the Treasury up to £4 billion a year, it ruled that this was a step it couldn’t afford. When it comes to equality, it seems that money takes precedence – and that some people must be considered more equal than others.
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Do also read Christopher Booker’s article of 09-Feb-2013 CLICK HERE