The Conservative Party is the oldest political party in the world, having managed change from one era to the next more successfully than any other. We are, after all, a party founded by Robert Peel’s acceptance of the Great Reform Act – the original Tory opposition to which put the Conservative Party on the wrong side of history and the electorate and which Disraeli believed cost it greatly for four decades.
The bill legalising same-sex marriage reaches its third reading in the House of Commons this week and is another test of our long-term survival instincts. For my part, I've supported marriage equality for ten years – I, like most peoplemy age, simply can’t understand why people shouldn't be able to celebrate their love the same way, no matter who they love. Ideally, government should get out the business of marriage altogether – and leave it to couples and communities to decide – but this bill does the next best thing.
Opposing it doesn't make you a bigot or a homophobe – a label far too many are willing to apply to those voting against. There are many religious objections to same-sex marriage - while the bill introduces safeguards to protect churches, I won't try to persuade MPs that feel their own religious beliefs stop them voting for the bill. But to those that are open to persuasion, I’d like to make a plea from the next generation.
While most voters support same-sex marriage, it’s undoubtedly, and regrettably, the case that most Conservative voters oppose it. But those that voted Conservative in 2010 are the least likely voters to rank it as a major issue. After all, we’re Conservatives; we care more about the big issues – like fixing our economy, our schools, and our welfare system – and we should be proud that we do.