Simon Reevell is the Member of Parliament for Dewsbury. Follow Simon on Twitter.
Recently the Chancellor joined the Prime Minister in announcing his support for "gay marriage". Whether the Chancellor is an objective supporter of the proposal or whether he perceives electoral advantage in a proposal that some believe will positively impact on the image of the Conservative Party is unclear. It is perhaps safe to assume that he is motivated by at least one of those considerations.
If objective support is behind the Chancellor’s recent statement about this proposal, it is worth asking what exactly he believes the proposal to be.
In its current form, it amounts to a proposal to allow same sex marriage but to do so by way of legislation that, it is said, will exempt religious groups from its ambit. In other words, Parliament will legislate to end what it has identified as discrimination - same sex couples not being able to marry - but, within that anti-discrimination legislation, Parliament will preserve the right of some people (religious organisations) to behave in a manner that has been identified as discriminatory. If the local authority refuses to conduct a same sex marriage, it will be acting as unlawfully as the B&B owner who will not allow a same sex couple to share the same room. If the local priest refuses to conduct a same sex service, his position will be protected by the exemption. It’s just that sooner or later it won’t be.