For those modernist Tories who wish to show that their Party has validity for all community groups and all ages, it must be deeply disappointing that so much effort over recent years to change a tired image has been undone by a public clamour from colleagues intended, in effect, to ostracise gay and lesbian men and women from the rest of society through denying them the right to marry. It is discrimination based on judgment, and as such is deeply unattractive, even more so when this sensitive issue is used as a weapon to undermine David Cameron’s leadership.
As the arguments on both sides go on, no-one appears to be considering how the people directly affected may be feeling about the controversy while their sexual orientation and related rights are discussed sometimes in highly personal and derogatory terms; it must be hurtful to say the least to be deemed unworthy of a right to marriage enjoyed by those who happen to be heterosexual, and uncomfortable that their lifestyle may be under covert criticism. It may be a simplistic comparison, but imagine if there was the same level of protest over redheads being allowed to go to certain hair salons frequented by everyone else - they would feel humiliated, distressed and probably angry too, understandably so – and it would be illegal. The gay marriage debate is not a dissimilar situation.
It is good that the legislation seems likely now to be passed and the furore will die down as same sex marriage becomes an accepted part of British life, just as occurred when civil partnerships were introduced. Damage has been done, however, to the sensibilities of the lesbian and gay community and to the reputation and cohesion of the Tory Party. Hopefully the intolerance of some will encourage greater tolerance in others - for good will come from this, as it comes from everything.
Claire Montanaro is a spiritual teacher, channel and blogger. Loves nature and wildlife. Author of Spiritual Wisdom.