Today, how about a roll call of those Tories who have helped along the cause of same-sex marriage? There’s David Cameron, of course, who has made it a key policy of his leadership. Maria Miller, who guided the original Bill through the Commons. Baroness Stowell, who did likewise in the Lords. The writer Douglas Murray, who penned a particularly influential article on the matter. Mike Freer, who…
Oh, do you know what? There are really too many to mention – but that’s partially my point. A lot of effort has gone into today’s gay weddings, and not just when it comes to deciding flower arrangements and place settings. And a lot of that effort has been Tory effort. This is a party that generally doesn’t make enough of its social achievements. But it should do in this case.
For this really is quite an achievement, and from a Government that could use some. It’s not that the Coalition hasn’t achieved much – quite the opposite, in my view. It’s more that, with the election campaign approaching, some of those achievements are complicated by either a) the promises that were originally made, b) the work that remains to be done, or c) battles for ownership between the Tories and the Lib Dems. It’s not as straightforward as that “12 Conservative achievements” card made it look.
But same-sex marriage is relatively unequivocal. It was pledged and, happily, it came to pass. And although you might argue that the Coalition has done more imperative work – welfare reform, deficit reduction, whatever – I doubt whether any of that will leave a firmer thumbprint on Britain’s political timeline. As Tim Montgomerie once wrote on this site, there’s something historic about this legislation.
Of course, not all Tories feel the same way about it. There’s disagreement among ConHome writers, let alone among the commenters, about same-sex marriage. As Andrew Pierce demonstrates in today’s Daily Mail, some gay people have misgivings about it, too. But, in a way, that is another sort of testament to what Cameron has done. As I wrote last year, he’s too often run away from his previous – ahem – convictions:
“One minute, he’s a committed green ranger, defining himself and his party by their environmentalism. The next, he’s a hard-headed energy pragmatist, who barely signs up to any of that stuff. Or is he? No, maybe, yes, don’t know. It leaves you wondering how tightly David Cameron holds on to any of these convictions of his.”
But not so in the case of same-sex marriage. There, the Prime Minister has stood firm.
Anyway, enough of this base politics. To all those couples, gay or otherwise, who are squaring up to be married today or in future – congratulations.