By Tim Montgomerie
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Regular readers of ConHome will know that I made a conservative case for gay marriage some time ago and I repeated that case in much briefer form in the video for the Out4Marriage campaign, pasted below.
A few observations about how the campaign is progressing:
- I'm fully aware that the issue is causing huge problems for many of our core voters. Tory MPs say it is the number one issue in their postbag and letters are dominated by those who wish to preserve the status quo. I'm also aware that most voters (by 51% to 35%) support extending the benefits of marriage to gay people.
- It is right that the issue is a free vote. Gay marriage raises important issues of freedom of religion and no MP should be dragooned into the government lobbies to support an issue that offends their conscience. It is disappointing that Nick Clegg should be so illiberal in insisting all Government MPs vote for the reform.
- Third it is a shame that the Government isn't simultaneously pursuing the pro-marriage agenda that was promised by David Cameron when he first advocated equal marriage in his 2006 party conference speech. He promised to bring the British tax system into line with nearly every other developed country in the world and introduce a recognition of marriage. If the introduction of gay marriage was happening in the context of a transferable tax allowance for married couples – that would be more pro-poor than raising the income tax threshold – we might have less opposition from Christians and social conservatives. This is an issue we can't blame on the Liberal Democrats because there is provision in the Coalition Agreement for Lib Dem MPs to abstain on the measure and for it to pass with the votes of Tory MPs.