‘The prime minister is right on so many issues, but on this one he is out of touch with the British people. And he is plain wrong.’
So wrote Conservative backbencher Peter Bone MP in our debate feature in this month’s magazine. The question for discussion was ‘should we introduce gay marriage’, and somewhat unusually, we had two MPs from the same party expressing diametrically opposing views – Jane Ellison MP made a passionate case in favour of gay marriage in response to the same question.
There is still 20 days to go on the consultation for the government’s proposals for gay marriage, but in the past day or so we’ve had two very interesting developments on the subject. First, it was announced that there would be a free vote on the issue – a measure traditionally allowed for matters of conscience.
Second, Theresa May has produced a video for the ‘Out4Marriage’ campaign, revealing her personal support for introducing gay marriage:
May is a high-ranking cabinet minister and the minister for women and equalities, so alongside that of the PM and DPM, her overt support is pretty important. While it has nothing like the symbolic and electoral significance of Obama’s recent intervention on the issue, it carries weight. With allegations of a possible coalition U-turn on gay marriage trickling through, May’s move changes the discussion. Allowing a free vote has been seen as a concession to backbenchers like Bone, since it releases them from any obligation they may have felt to vote in favour of the proposals. But it also has the effect of allowing high-profile ministers like May to state their personal views in public, which could ultimately have a positive impact on the likely success of the campaign to introduce gay marriage.