Lords Reform. The European Union. Gay Marriage. Divisions within the coalition, and even within the Tory party itself, have been hitting the headlines before David Cameron even had time to move his furniture into number ten. It’s easy to get caught up in the implications of yesterday’s vote for both Cameron’s party and his leadership, especially when almost half of his party shunned the bill, but it is important to remember yesterday for its real value in history.
Though the bill must still undergo more detailed parliamentary scrutiny and will soon face the House of Lords, an overwhelming majority of 225 MPs voted to approve the notion of gay marriage in principle, on a free vote, without party whips and without party pressure. We are only a few steps away from joining the other fourteen countries that allow gay marriage in some form and this is a fantastic thing.
Cameron, who has kept decidedly quiet on the issue over the last few weeks, today announced during Prime Minister’s questions his pride that love between a same-sex couple will now “count the same” as that of a man and women. He expressed admiration for those who had campaigned for “many years” and at the “moving” speeches made by MPs during the marathon six hour debate. And whilst there were impassioned pleas on both sides, from Mike Freer “simply asking for equal treatment” to Roger Gale slamming the move as “Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian even” attempt at “rewriting the lexicon”, the end result still stands.
Reading into the Conservative’s 127 noes, 35 who did not vote and five abstentions, is tempting. What does it mean for Cameron’s leadership and authority? How will it affect the results in 2015? But the fact remains that 400 MPs voted for the bill, a reflection of how our society has progressed in recent years. In a generation or two we’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about, just as we do with 1949’s changes to the marriage age and 1969’s changes to divorce. So, let us just sit back for a moment and appreciate this for how god damn amazing it really is.