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Ben Howlett: Why this Government has got it right on Gay Marriage

Picture 2 Ben Howlett is the National Chairman of Conservative Future.  

Yesterday, news broke that the Government is to launch a consultation on same-sex civil marriages, leading to legislation on same-sex marriages before the next election. This is something many, including some Conservatives, have campaigned on for decades and is something that has made me extremely proud to call myself a Conservative.

Having read the comments from Roger Helmer MEP, "Why the Government is wrong on gay marriage", I want to emphasise why these proposals are progressive and, most importantly, positively Conservative. As a gay man, who is in a long-term relationship with my partner, there is one thing that has concerned me since I came out to my family. It was the idea that entering into a commitment that meant more about tax benefits than about the love between two people. It is also a system that ensures that the belief of the individual is protected, therefore a person’s religious belief is respected.

I have viewed civil partnerships as a step in the right direction, but with great scepticism. As ever, Labour created a state construct that they believed would create a kind of equality. However, they failed to recognise that over centuries a commitment between two people has been called "marriage". This is in stark comparison to Helmer’s definition that marriage is only between a man and a woman. As a Conservative, I do not believe in state constructs that meddle with society. Labour should have respected that you cannot solve an issue by creating a governmental structure. The proposals outlined show just why this is a Conservative idea. It has created a system where equality of opportunity reigns supreme, allowing everyone to achieve their own potential. Helmer seems to forget that this is where the future of Conservatism rests, the Government is reversing Labour’s inequality and replacing it with a new society where everyone is treated equally in the eyes of the law.

As a Conservative, I believe that the ability to choose is a fundamental right that should be upheld and extended. I am concerned that as a Conservative, Helmer does not agree with universal choice protected by the state. If the Government did not change Labour’s scheme, how else would reform and equality of opportunity be implemented? The argument against change seems to be opposition for the sake of being anti-change. Despite innuendo to suggest otherwise, the Government is not degrading the importance of marriage by allowing the term to be applied to a wider strata of society. The Government see the need for civil marriage to be widened as a result of the benefits associated. Marriage is important for society to improve and progress.

Whether a relationship is between man and man, woman and woman, man and woman, it is proven that society is better if more people are in a committed relationship. That way, children will be brought up with two parents, rather than one. I know this is not often seen as politically correct to say, but families are proven to be the best unit to bring children up. More couples of whatever gender bringing up children is so important to bettering society and mending broken Britain.

This Government has shown itself as the most progressive in generations. These are progressive and yet also Conservative proposals that ensure the importance of family, commitment and marriage are placed at the heart of the Government’s social policy. Despite comments to the contrary, Conservatives are really behind this policy and we cannot wait until it comes into force.


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