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Conflicting Reports on Gay Marriage’s Progress in U.K.

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday May 8, 2012
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United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron may be backing down on his support for marriage equality as angry Tories are urging him to be more conservative, British newspaper the Daily Mail reported.

Conservative members of Parliament want Cameron to "return to traditional Tory values," the newspaper points out. It is expected that the prime minister will put the issue of gay marriage on the backburner in order to work on economic issues that voters say are more important. The decision comes after the conservative party suffered a big defeat in local elections last Thursday.

Chancellor George Osborne said that the government will focus "on the things that really matter" instead of getting "distracted" by social issues. The politician also said he personally backs same-sex marriage but added there are no plans for a bill that would move the issue forward.

"I think what people are saying is focus on the things that really matter, focus on the economy and on education and welfare," Osborne said on BBC1’s "The Andrew Marr Show." "Focus on those things, don’t get distracted by too many other issues."

The chancellor also said voters are concerned with other issues and are less concerned with marriage equality. He added that parliament would debate same-sex marriage but it was not a "priority."

"We are focused on the really important issues that matter to people, he said. "Parliament can discuss these issues, Parliament is very good at discussing these issues, but it is certainly not my priority, the priority of the Government. It is not where the efforts of the Government and the executive are going to be directed."

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has been extremely critical of Cameron and called the prime minister and Osborne "arrogant posh boys."

"While Britons scream out for strong policies on law and order, a stable NHS and an in-out referendum on Europe to cut us free from basket-case Southern European economies, Cameron makes gay marriage and Lords reform his priorities," she said.

But the British news site Pink News reported the opposite and claims Cameron will not back down on supporting same-sex marriage. The chairman of the Tory backbench, Graham Brady, is expected to ask Cameron and the Tory Chief Whip, Patrick McLoughlin, not to retreat in their support for same-sex marriage. Pink News says that McLoughlin reportedly said that the "proposals will not come to fruition."

’While Britons scream out for strong policies on law and order, a stable NHS and an in-out referendum on Europe to cut us free from basket-case Southern European economies, Cameron makes gay marriage and Lords reform his priorities.’

A spokesperson for Downing Street told the website that "it is certainly not the case" and that Cameron’s "commitment to the issue has waned." The spokesman also added that these "speculations" may be part of the Queen’s Speech next week and that a clause regarding gay marriage could be discussed. She went on to say that there were never plans to talk about the legislation for same-sex marriage during this year’s Queen’s Speech but it does not mean Cameron is "backing down" or "diluting" his views on marriage equality.

Cameron has showed his suport for gay rights before becoming the U.K.’s prime minister. He opposed and criticized a local government act called Section 28 -- a controversial measure that stated that a local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship."

In a February 2010 interview with Attitude magazine, Cameron called the measure an "insult" and said, "I think now looking back you can see the mistake of Section 28. There’s only one thing worse than making a mistake and that’s not putting your hands up and admitting it."

He also told Attitude that he is in favor of equal rights for gay families, including the right to adopt.

The stance of the leader of the Conservative Party stands in marked contrast to those who are aiming to be his equivalent in the United States. Every one of the presidential candidates for the nomination for president from the Republican Party, the American version of the Tories, tried to outdo the other in his or her opposition to same-sex marriage.

No one embodies the national GOP’s vilification of marriage equality than the man who oversaw the implementation of marriage in the first state to legalize it, Massachusetts. And now that man is the all-but-anointed GOP presidential nominee.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on gay issues for years. In 1994 he sent a letter the Log Cabin Republicans (a LGBT conservative group) saying that he would be stronger in his views for gay rights. But in 1994 he supported Bill Clinton’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, which barred gays from openly serving in the military.

When he was running for governor in 2002, Romney said, "call me old fashioned, but I don’t support gay marriage nor do I support civil union." But after winning the election and becoming the 70th Governor of Massachusetts, Romney ordered town clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

During the latest presidential campaign Romney told a gay Vietnam veteran, Bob Garon, that he would support the repeal of New Hampshire’s law that recognizes gay marriage. He said that "marriage is between a man and a woman" and that "at the time the Constitution was written it was pretty clear that marriage is between a man and a woman, and I don’t believe the Supreme Court has changed that."

Romney’s shaky stance on gay marriage has left some of his financial supporters a bit anxious, including three hedge fund managers, Paul Singer, Dan Loeb and Cliff Asness, who supported the cause to legalize gay marriage in New York. The businessmen have been especially worried after the Christian and anti-gay marriage group, National Organization for Marriage, endorsed Romney in April.

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2012-05-08 13:37:49

    Economic issues more important? Maybe they are more urgent, but equality in societies is definitely more important and also economically relevant in the long term. Tories are just trying to keep the country as unequal as it is...


  • Oh Jed said:, 2012-05-17 18:25:57

    Well put


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