Like most conservatives I believe that the family plays an important part in society and peoples lives. In an ideal world we would wish everyone came from a stable happy family home where they were properly supported and able to develop as a child and as adults have a supportive family around us our entire lives.
We know unfortunately that this is not the case for many people my self included. Many grow up in broken homes, single parent families, or environments that don't allow us to be as supported as we would hope.
As a society we should be supporting strong family relationships and encouraging commitment what ever the sexuality or gender of the people in question. Its not being gay, lesbian or bisexual that leads to many children growing up under supported or growing old without a family around them its where they have not had strong family relationships built on commitment and love.
One of the strongest ways this government can show support for the family and as conservatives cement it as one of the values we stand for is to be strong and continue to lead the agenda introducing equal or gay marriage to the UK within this parliament. Supporting equal marriage wont solve the issue of broken families and abusive relationships for all and doesn't mean that people who choose not to get married or bring children up as single parents aren't doing a good job or shouldn't be supported. Supporting equal marriage will show how ever as one of a number of measures that the government and the modern conservative party believe in family values and the importance of love and strong relationships in peoples lives to create a prosperous and happy society to live in.
Supporting equal marriage sends out the marriage that loud and clear gay or straight bisexual or lesbian that the conservative party is there for you that we believe in ensuring your able to share your love and commitment and it is valued by the society you live in. It will help to restore the culture that relationships are important and that commitment should be valued not seen as something you just do when your old and "past it".
By leading on equal marriage we re leading on family values and we are leading on supporting love and commitment and I cant think of anything more conservative than that.
One of the greatest freedoms of the modern world is the freedom to worship free from prejudice or persecution. For generations in even the UK saying the wrong prayer at mass or worshiping with the wrong type of priest could see you imprisoned or at worst burnt at the stake. Like many conservatives I belief religion plays an important part in many peoples lives, it helps construct morals and values for people to work together in peace, it can encourage charity and sense of community that we all benefit from and it gives hope and promise to so many helping us lead fulfilled happy lives. Whether we belief in an organised religion or our own set of values that are distinct from a divine being or master plan we can all find common ground that brings us together under a join sense of importance and which has lead to many successful interfaith projects around the world, ending wars, helping the most vulnerable and rebuilding communities. Interfaith work often leads to a stronger sense of self what our own beliefs are by recognising how we see the world differently to others whilst still valuing the things we share in common.
Only through religious freedom and ability to have our own values free from oppression are we able to work together and create the positive communities we live in today. Yet one of the fundamental aspects of many religions "marriage" is not free to be practiced by the church, Islam or any other religion. The right to marry in the UK and in many countries is controlled by the state. The state decides who is allowed to marry when they can marry and where they can marry and who is allowed to carry out marriages. Its this control that leads to the current issue of "equal marriage". For me it isn't the states job to enforce mine or its values on the catholic church or any other religion within the practice of their religious beliefs (within the limits of a civilised and just society) I no more wish to dictate how catholic chooses to carry out marriages than i do wish to dictate the prayers a catholic says before they go to bed, the reason for this is.... im not a catholic. However when it comes to equal marriage it is in fact the state that is interfering with the practice of religious beliefs already. Some churches and liberal Jewish groups do want to carry out same sex marriages right now and have made public statements to that effect, however under the current law dictated by the state they are not free to practice their religious beliefs and are not able to carry them out.
As a supporter of religious freedom I must by default be a supporter of equal marriage to defend the catholic churches right not to carry out same sex marriages you must also defend the right of other churches if they so wish to be able to carry them out and question "who is the state to tell them they are not allowed to practice their religion to do so?".
We have heard on the radio and through the media a sustained campaign by organisations linked to major christian organisations opposing equal marriage and even to the extent they will be protesting at this years conservative party conference. In effect what these groups of people are calling for is the continued interference of the government in UK citizens right to practice their own religious beliefs something which i suggest is neither conservative nor fits with modern British values that have existed for hundreds of yrs since the reformation when it comes to religious practice in the UK.
The organisations campaigning to oppose equal marriage are relying on hysteria and ignorance to win their campaign clouding peoples minds with myths around state enforced marriages and even claiming state interference with religious practice the exact thing they are actually campaigning for themselves (ironically). We have even seen the use of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights as a way of relying on peoples ignorance to push to agenda against equal marriage, using the current negative attitudes toward ECHR rulings to attach onto their campaign claiming the ECHR would force British churches to marry same sex couples the minute the government changes the law. Something which at best is a ignorant understanding of the law considering other European countries like Denmark already have equal marriage and have had no such problems and the case law in fact states clearly that this will not be the case and at worst a plain lie used as simply propaganda to try and create hysteria against the equal marriage agenda lead by the government.
By being a supporter of equal marriage in the UK you are a supporter of religious freedom whether you agree with someones choices or not is irrelevant if you belief you should be able to practice your religious beliefs free from prejudice and oppression you must also support the right of others to do the same. This is why you should support equal marriage.
When anyone asks me to describe my politics I would use one word to sum it up "progressive". I believe in supporting politics that works not blindly following political ideology and dogma because that's what the party doctrine says. Tony Blair changed politics in the UK he pushed Labour towards the centre ending the control of the hard left militants wanting to pull the UK back into 4 day weeks, power cuts and bankruptcy and pushed the conservative party to reform to embrace its liberal heritage and centre ground showing the dinosaurs of the past that they simply weren't in touch with "modern Britains" any more.
I'm involved in politics because I want to make a difference I want to push the boundaries and make the communities we live in better places for all. I don't want legislation for the sake of legislation and I dont want promises that do nothing but keep people as under represented minorities in need of a hand out because no one has given them a hand up.
I believe the modern conservative party is about exactly that stripping away the barriers people face in everyday life to give everyone an equal chance in life. Being a modern conservative is about being a mentor a guide and a friend looking to support and encourage people to be the best they can be who ever they are and where ever they come from. I believe that being a modern conservative is about truly pushing the boundaries showing that the party has let go of its past and is looking to its future, one which empowers not legislates, supports not dictates and listens not imposes.
Change however takes time parties are made up of people and change is the one thing many people find hard to accept. MPs often spend decades in the chamber and achieving fundamental shifts in party views take strong arguments, strong evidence and a lot of patience. I know that as a whole the conservative party is committed to reform, committed to moving forward and committed to standing up for progressive values but its through a parties actions it is judged and on equal marriage we have one such occasion to show we are as good as our word.
Only one mainstream political party went into the 2010 general election promising equal marriage it was the conservatives. Labour had 13 years in government with over whelming majorities but failed to deliver on this agenda. The time has come to show that we can deliver on our promises and that where Labour failed we will succeed.
By implementing equal marriage we s a party can show how far we have come and what we stand for as we go forward. Some MPs don't support it which is sad but as I have said already a symptom of change and the make up of parliament rather than the will and progress of the party as a whole. We need to keep the message loud and clear that the conservative party is fully behind the equal marriage agenda we support the diverse communities we have in the UK and that its delivering meaningful rights and changes will be the focus of the governments equality and diversity agenda rather than processes and red tape a legacy we saw under Labour.
Whether your Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem equal marriage is an agenda that only those opposed to progress and progressive politics will oppose and as progressives ourselves we need to stand up be counted and say loud and clear progress is hear to stay!