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I am afraid that Cameron is probably reflecting the law as it stands and as it would be interpreted by The High Court.

In much the same way as G Brown had the ONS change Marriage Certificates to state "Single" in place of "Bachelor" and "Spinster", the ruling clique has created a civil partnership akin to marriage by denying the right of blood relations to enter into civil partnership

I support David Cameron's plan to support marriage. A marriage is a union between a man and a woman. By definition any other kind of partnership is NOT a marriage.

Bless you crazy theocons.

The inclusion of same-sex partnerships under Cameron's marriage proposals is of the utmost importance to the Conservative cause. Same-sex partnerships strengthen the institution of marriage, and contribute to the stronger social fabric for which this policy strives. You can't argue for widespread 'social cohesion' on the grouds that it's only alright when it's the sort of cohesion you agree with.

Who says a marriage is a union between a man and a woman?

Seriously - where is the universal truth immortalised in stone for us all to wonder in awe at?

You may personally choose to define marriage in those terms - and I'm sure you won't be alone; but where do you get off dictating to those of us who may - or may not - take a different view that this is how marriage should be defined?

The only logical justification for such an assertion is that there is some tangible difference between the quality, intensity or meaning of a bond between two partners of different genders and those of the same.

If that is your view, then you're nothing more than offensive, irrational bigot. If that isn't your view then your opposition to recognising a partnership between gays or lesbians as equal to that between heterosexuals is simply incoherent.

And this is precisely why the State should keep out of marriage and treat all sexual relationships between consenting adults as equal.

Peter Coe - Who says a marriage is a union between a man and a woman?

Ever heard of God, Peter?

This is the first time I have heard of a tax policy which appeals directly to God.

I look forward to our tax breaks for the meek and, of course, the cheesemakers.

Civil partnerships are not marriages. They are civil partnerships. It seems to me that the civil partnerships legislation has some way further to go (to include further cases), but be that as it may, we then have the question of what is the function of any tax break for couples (married, partnered, childed, whatever).

Is the point to encourage the making and keeping of promises? If so, then presumably that will apply to all those promise-exchanging institutions that the State recognises. That would include civil partnerships.

Is it, instead, to encourage stability of parents? In that case there would be a case for granting it even to childless couples on the grounds that they might one day have children. But wouldn't this apply also to homosexual couples?

Is it, perhaps to equivalize taxation of income so that it relates to the number of persons over which that income is spread? Then presumably it will apply to those that have children.

Lastly, it could be that the idea is to favour a particular social ideal of living - the lifelong covenant partnership of a man and a woman. This is not to say that Society disapproves of single people, or monks, or homosexual couples, or polygamists, or widows, or anyone else. It merely means that if there is to be one social ideal then there is only one. In my view that would not be the current marriage contract - which is currently not well-suited to serving as a social ideal, since it includes blatently non-ideal family arrangements such as adulterers who have married each other. Instead, we would need a new institution to attach this concept to.

Take your pick, Dave. Then argue for it. I'd prefer the last, but recommend the third (equivalisation), and duplicate our 1997 General Election manifesto commitment.

The religious interpretation of marriage is pretty irrelevant now Traditional Tory since Britain is almost a secular state. Why shouldn't same sex couples be aloud to recognise their relationships officially anyway?

Sigh. Really. Are we conservatives who favour the expansion of successful institutions to provide financially sound, psychologically healthy outcomes for the citizenry? Or are we theocrats with an inside track to a revealed truth? Why do the latter insist on knowing everything? I thought humility, and a knowledge of the lack of the extent of one's insight, was supposed to go with this hankering for the transcendental? What do I know? I know that I'm married, regardless of what everyone else on the planet - with one exception - has to say on the matter. Fortunately our wider families agree as well. Even the ones with a hankering for the transcendental!

Let's be nice to each other for a bit, eh? It's easier to go through life defining oneself in opposition to The Other, narrowing the limits of inclusion further and still further as one cuts out this and that component of humanity, in the unattainable search for ideological purity [typically on Conservative Home, when this issue is raised, within about 20 posts someone says 'it's not just gays that are sinners, adulterers are as well' and then an atheist responds by picking another ridiculous category and quotes the 'relevant' chapter of this or that ... not enlightening really, is it?] It's harder but more worthwhile to check out what common values we possess - regardless of the drivers that cause us to hold those values - and to expand the institution accordingly, because we can see that the deeper its foundations the more viable it becomes. You might not be in a place to say "I honestly see that Civil Partnership is marriage". That's OK. But I don't see how you can ever be in a place to add the clause "and my belief is reality for humanity".

Socialists tie themselves up in knots trying to make reality fit their warped ideological covenants. Why do some Tories insist on doing the same? WHy not just accept that love will drive people to pair-bond, and that this is a good thing, and that we should encourage it to happen through the man-made construct of the tax and benefit system? Gay people are a teeny tiny proportion of the population and - while individuals among them are fascinating, of course - they (we) are not worth all this constant debate.

... and also the tax policies for those who don't believe in a God, or for those who have more than one God.
We can't simply legislate in favour of one group of people because of what it says in the Bible!!!

It's interesting to learn from Mr Coe that just about every great Conservative who ever lived was an 'offensive, irrational bigot'.

Or were Disraeli, Baldwin, Churchill et al actually closet supporters of 'Gay Weddings'?

I think we should be told.

I think married couples should receive a tax benefit and I think that gay couples should be able to marry. David Cameron should extend marriage to gay couples. In the absence of this, he is right to extend this benefit to gay civil partners.

Seriously - where is the universal truth immortalised in stone for us all to wonder in awe at?

Interesting point but you surely don't want to travel down that path.....after all man-made "laws" are simply matters of opinion and can hardly be considered binding....ever dictatorship uses laws to enforce its will and render lawful what is immoral

Absolutely agree with you Changetowin. There's a first!

Graeme,

We don't need to get into the morality or otherwise of various things. What counts is presumably the policy interest. I can see a policy interest in encouraging the exchanging of promises, regardless of whether they are made by heterosexual monogamous couples, homosexual couples, or polygamists. If that's what we want to do, then it will be progress - provided that's what we argue for. If that's what you want to argue for, then I'm happy to be persuaded that that is the way to go rather than child-interest-promoting or social-ideal-promoting.

Also agree with Graeme Archer,why is so much energy being spent on what is really such a very tiny part of IDS report?

[email protected]:23

There would be serious problems associated with extending marriage to homosexual partners. The Church of England is legally obliged to publish banns of marriage, and there is a demarcation dispute over whether it is legally obliged to conduct wedding ceremonies. This already creates considerably difficulties in the case of remarried divorcees. I once attended a church at which the vicar would always preface his announcement of the banns of marriage of a divorcee with the phrase "Under protest, and because I am required to by law, I publish the banns of marriage of X (*divorced*) of the parish of..."

If homosexuals became notionally legally entitled to marry in Church, the pressure for disestablishment would probably become overwhelming.

Sorry, but Conservatives do not simply remake the moral law (or anything else) on the basis of some individual's view of what is rational.

Or rather, in this case, some importunate individual's view of what is fashionable.

Many of us recall the development of 'gay rights', which was of course from beginning to end dominated by the left, and very often the far left.

Now we have a few johnny-come-latelies of the gay persuasion telling us that this is something Tories need to support. Funny they were so quiet about it before.

Well, I don't buy it - and nor do a majority of CH respondents.

David Cameron should extend marriage to gay couples

Maybe he should put it in his manifesto - I doubt Ed Miliband will put it in Labour's - so why not Changetowin have Cameron insert it in the Conservative Manifesto ?

The Church of England is legally obliged to publish banns of marriage,

I thought banns had been discontinued

If practical Conservatism (as opposed to the dogmatic, theocratic nutcase version practised in ceratin parts of the US of A!)stands for anything it is surely FREEDOM.

F.R.E.E.D.O.M.

Support of all forms of union is just plain common sense!

Marriage is beteen man and woman ideally for procreation and should attract the tax allowance in recognition of its importance and benefit to society. Civil partnerships are of no special benefit to society only to those involved. Once again Dave is trying to be all things to all men (and women) I do not believe that the majority support tax allowances for persons in such situations nor in adoption by gays. Up north they will be rolling their eyes and looking up to the heavens.
Those that wish to partake of a civil partnership, that is their business, but I do not wish to be taxed to assist them neither will I vote for a party that believes I should.

I thought banns had been discontinued

Well they were read in my church yesterday.

If practical Conservatism...stands for anything it is surely FREEDOM.

Freedom from the tyranny of Socialism, certainly.

OTOH, Conservatism stands for obedience to the law and for a patriotism which tends to restrict freedom. You don't find Conservative conscienscious objectors.

Classical Toryism was founded upon support for the established church and opposition to dissent - in other words the antethesis to religious freedom.

Go and read some history.

I think our tax policy should be a flat rate of 10%.

"You shall surely tithe all the produce of what you sow which comes out of the field every year." (Deutoronomy 14:22)

Mike [email protected]:51

Be careful what you wish for! The flat taxers will come to hail you king!

We shouldn't go screwing around with things that have worked for 1000s of years. Leave such ignorance and arrogance to the left. I didn't take the survey but am opposed to such an extension, which will not benefit the working poor and serves no useful purpose at all - other than as a shameless bribe to a minority of the electorate.

If by banns we mean notice of intent to marry, these are legally reproduced in the office of the registrar. The CP and the 'marriage' ones are there next to each other outside the registrar's office in our borough. There's no difference in the wording, or the legal requirements, though I wasn't allowed to put 'spinster of this parish' under 'occupation', to my eternal dismay. I had to put 'statistician'. Not the same, is it?

I really can't see why some people (TT for example) have a problem with encouraging stable gay relationships. Civil Partnerships don't undermine marriage - because gay people are unlikely to get married in the first place.

Civil partnerships might not have the same level of societal benefit as stable heterosexual relationships - because gay couples are less likely to have children - but there are still benefits to wider society in encouraging that stability. I should also note that there are gay couples who raise children jointly, often, for example, children from previous straight relationships.

I suspect that some of the people complaining here are hiding homophobia behind the flag of supporting marriage. They may want a party which regulates what consenting adults get up to in private- even if they don't quite have the guts to say what they really mean publiclly. I, for one, am glad that there is no place for them in the modern Conservative party. UKIP is welcome to them.

The requirements in the Diocese of London are here: http://www.london.anglican.org/regulations/marriage.html

I'm not particularly devoted to terms here. At the moment civil partners are civil partners, not married. But if we want the term "marriage" to apply, then that's okay by me provided that it doesn't mean that homosexuals are legally entitled to religious marry in Anglican church services. I would prefer us to have a new institution - "justice-based partnerships" or "covenant partnerships" or some term like that - that covers pre-no-fault-divorce-and-welfare-based-allocation marriage (plus indissolubility).

"Who says a marriage is a union between a man and a woman?"

Every definition of it, in law, custom and religion. Even now, as the law that brought in civil partnership and did not call it marriage. Different provisions also reflected its different nature - fidelity has always been considered an inherant part of marriage but in civil partnership, unlike in marriage, sexual infidelity is not a ground for dissolution.

This is a hornet's nest, which is why the transferable allowance should be only for those married, or in civil partnerships (I agree in practice you could not exclude them), who have children living with them (or disabled or the elderly whom they care for). Incidentally I could find no way of answering your survey to reflect this view.

Anything else will quite rightly be opposed by libertarians and traditionalists alike, for different reasons.

What a depresing survey finding. Sometimes I despair about the rank and file.

''I really can't see why some people (TT for example) have a problem with encouraging stable gay relationships. Civil Partnerships don't undermine marriage - because gay people are unlikely to get married in the first place.''

Thank you. That hits the nail on the head. Civil Partnerships are a new institution designed to encourage stability and faithfulness amongst gay couples, in particular many gay couples who have been together for years, even decades before the legislation came through.

Civil Partnerships would only undermime marriage if they were extended to straight couples, as in France, so that it became a legal alternative to marriage.

We really have to move beyond this theocratic moral debate over homosexuality. Whoever comes out with the argument that God doesnt approve of homosexuality, therefore the Conservatives shouldnt recognise it through the tax system is crazy.

Frank McGarry, you need to open your mind. David Cameron supports marriage because of what it DOES, not because of the gender of the two people involved! He supports it because it has a positive impact on society, not because of its religious connotations, that is a private matter for individuals.

I support David Cameron on his stance on marriage and civil partnerships. If he said he favoured one over the other within the tax system that would be down right incoherent!

We really have to move beyond this theocratic moral debate over homosexuality. Whoever comes out with the argument that God doesnt approve of homosexuality, therefore the Conservatives shouldnt recognise it through the tax system is crazy.

Frank McGarry, you need to open your mind. David Cameron supports marriage because of what it DOES, not because of the gender of the two people involved! He supports it because it has a positive impact on society, not because of its religious connotations, that is a private matter for individuals.

I support David Cameron on his stance on marriage and civil partnerships. If he said he favoured one over the other within the tax system that would be down right incoherent!

If Cameron is to push forward with tax breaks for married couples, then of course it must include gay couples as well.

I wish we as a party would get over this endless homophobia. There is nothing wrong with gay people full stop and the sooner the blue-rinse brigade in this party understand that, the better.

Traditional Tory, before when asked why marriage has to always be between a man and a woman, you replied with 'Ever heard of God?' Well, so what? What's 'God' got to do with anything considering a) we don't even know if God exists, b) less than 10% of the British population go to church anyway and c) if Christians acted true to their faith they would welcome gay marriage since it follows the message of love and tolerance which Christianity is supposed to be about.

I am generally a critic of the way Cameron has run this party, but I applaud him for turning away from homophobia. He should push for same-sex marriage in the next manifesto and it would outflank Labour and finally show that the Conservatives are not bigots.

Traditional Tory, of course Churchill, Disreali and Baldwin wouldn't have been in favour of gay marriage. In their time homosexuality was a huge taboo. Gays were viewed as mentally ill were they not? I suspect some here still believe that, but the majority must agree that it is only fair for all couples, whatever their sexuality, to have their relationships recognised by law.

Civil Partnerships are a new institution designed to encourage stability and faithfulness amongst gay couples

Yes, I think the first Civil Partnership lasted at least six months...

A Civil Partnership can't be a marriage because it is not capable of producing children. If these arrangements make some people happy, fine, but they bear as much relationship to the sacrament of marriage as the 'Paralympics' bear to the Olympic Games.

I'm all for tolerating homosexuals, but I have no intention of 'celebrating' their lifestyle and nor, I am 100% sure, are most Conservatives.

Leave that to the PC brigade.

The obvious problem with drawing God into the rulings of HMRC is the multiple married allowances that devout Mohammedans and Mormons will then trouser.

Still, let's not worry about consistency when there's queer-bashing to be done, eh?

Traditional Tory, what a load of rubbish.

'Celebrating their lifestyle'? What lifestyle? Sexuality is not a choice or a lifestyle, it's a way of life and you don't have to be PC to understand that a homosexual couple is just as important and positive as a heterosexual couple.

And many, many homosexual couples 'produce children' either through adoption, surrogacy or children from previous relationships.

It is only a matter of time before 'civil partnerships' get upgraded to 'marriage'. David Cameron, if he has any sense, should make sure we take the advantage and propose it first.

And many, many homosexual couples 'produce children' either through adoption, surrogacy

Yes, that's part of the problem.

I'm sure I don't need to remind you about the weight of opinion here last time that was discussed.

It doesn't surprise me. I'm still unclear as to whether this is intended to apply to couples with dependent children only - and if it does, what possible rational basis is there for excluding civil-partnered couples with dependent children? While the posters on all of these threads have focused on their stereotype of the "Elton and David" wealthy metropolitan male couple as their idea of what a same-sex couple looks like, they conveniently ignore the thousands of (particularly female) couples raising children (often with only one breadwinner), or the thousands of elderly couples quietly trying to look after each other in their impoverished old age.

Maybe marriage ought to be redefined as a biological union that when copulation occurs, conception may result and a live birth or births is/are the consequence/consequences.

After getting over the vexatious and contentious definition of marriage, we can then consider the variations and permutations of surrogate pregnancies in lesbian couples or adoption by homosexual males, or vice versa, with or without assisted conceptions, and recognise that all routes to starting or increasing a family carry financial, emotional and parental responsibilities.

The final sanitised part of the political proposal in question is to devise a means of inducing or encouraging permanence of any union. However, what seems to heat up this discussion is the controversy sustained by a body of people who believe that ‘biological’ marriage is the only form of union that should be positively encouraged and promoted.

Who blinks first?

"I'm all for tolerating homosexuals, but I have no intention of 'celebrating' their lifestyle and nor, I am 100% sure, are most Conservatives.

Leave that to the PC brigade."

I'm going to try and not get personal and emotional here, but I just do not understand how anyone can deny two legally consenting people the same rights as heterosexual couples.

What 'ownership' over gay people do people like you 'Traditional Tory' think you have that says they should not be able to have a Civil Partnership. How can you deny someone something that is not from their choice. Do people still think that homosexuality is a choice?

The Conservative Party should be the natural home for Homosexuals. Are we not about freedom on the indivdual anymore?

Maybe its a generational thing, and I hope the above does not come across like I am provoking an argument, I really just don't understand people's stance on Homosexuals - Sorry.

"The obvious problem with drawing God into the rulings of HMRC is the multiple married allowances that devout Mohammedans and Mormons will then trouser."

Don't you know? Revenue and customs already recognise polygamy in the tax system at least according to David Davies MP for Monmouth.

The Conservative Party should be the natural home for Homosexuals.

Perhaps you should have told that to Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe!

The fact is - whether you like it or not - that your view has generally been supported by politicians on the left (not all) and opposed by Conservative politicians (again not all)

Are we not about freedom on the indivdual anymore?

Yes and that freedom includes the right to take a 'traditionalist' view on the issue, if you don't mind.

When I buy a car, nobody tells me which colours I should like and dislike.

Likewise, why should my likes and dislikes in the field of what is coyly referred to as 'orientation' be dictated by the PC brigade?

Traditional Tory: you're a pillock.

If the only argument you've got is "ever heard of God?", let me come back with "ever met God? Or "ever been able to produce a single verifiable piece of evidence that God exists?" When you can respond in the affirmative to either, then I'll devote the vaguest of efforts to responding to your sorry excuse for a riposte.

Again, where is it written in stone that marriage is about producing children - are all the childless married couples that exist invalid? Says who? Marriage is nothing more and nothing less than a public declaration of affinity, commitment and duty to each other. It is counter-intuitive to claim that only heterosexuals are capable of making such a commitment; or that only among heterosexuals is it worth recognising.

If you genuinely believe that Britain should live by the word of the Bible, or even by the societal norms of that era (or that of Disraeli) then say so - but let's just make sure you're abiding by all of them, not just the ones that accord with your spiteful, nasty, bigoted and oppressive outlook.

Do you approve of selling your daughters into slavery as advocated in the Bible? Or the stoning of those who work on the Sabbath? Perhaps crucifixion is a form of capital punishment you approve of? Maybe we should scrap voting rights for women or common people (as in Disraeli's day)?

You must logically be in favour of all these things if your argument about marriage is to stand up. Or maybe you aren't - and you're just a contemptible hypocrite?

Do people not realise nobody asks to be homosexual or hetrosexual. This is out of every one's control.
Why cannot people live and let live?

Peter Coe, Traditional Tory has the same rights to express his opinion as you do yours.
Calling someone a pillock just devalues your argument.
I do not happen to agree with T.T. but he has every right to express his opinion as he sees fit.
Your argument on the other hand and the way you express yourself does not help the Gay cause, it only adds fuel to the fire.

Well Peter, the fool hath said...

Whether one believes in God or not - and in our diverse society there are an increasing number of devout Britons who feel far more strongly than I do on this issue - the fact remains that the wisdom of the ages is firmly against you.

Please don't descend to unpleasant and frankly distasteful abuse. In my experience those who stoop to calling others bigots invariably turn out to be sad bigots themselves.

Let's avoid anything personal please folks...

My finger is hovering over the delete button.

Traditional Tory - you represent everything that's wrong with our party and it's people like you who stop us winning elections.

The Conservative party should be about freedom and liberty. This means including freedom to live your sexual orientation without bigotry and hatred against you.

There is no sensible reason whatsoever why Conservatives should be homophobic or anti-gay-marriage. Thankfully, as time goes on, you will be in a minority and nobody will care about what you say.

You said before that homosexual couples having children was 'part of the problem'. Can you explain what you mean by this? And I suggest you be very careful about what you say.

"Well, I don't buy it - and nor do a majority of CH respondents."

There has, in my opinion, been an awful lot of rubbish posted in this thread by old-fashioned and narrow-minded people that seem to think that because there was one particular set of beliefs until recently, it was right.

But the quote I went for was one that particularly jumped out of my because of how ridiculous a comment is. The 49% disagreed with tax benefits for those in civil partnerships not agreeing with homosexual relationships and families in general. In addition, when has 49% been a majority?

As far as I can see, there is no reason to say that a homosexual couple are not good parents. If we're talking about the best ways to bring up children should we not instead be talking about removing children from those living in poverty? Surely their children are more at risk. Not so tempting now, is it.

God has no importance whatsoever in this law, this is about the tax system. Whether god recognises the relationship or not is irrelevant. The British government allows non-believers to marry and have children without major objections, so why not a loving and perhaps even religious homosexual couple?

Traditional Tory - you represent everything that's wrong with our party and it's people like you who stop us winning elections.

Well Michael, this may sound very big headed, but in the days when I was super-active with the party we actually used to win elections. Since I took a back seat everything seemed to go pear-shaped.

Can the two facts be connected, I ask myself?

As I don't recall ever discussing 'gay marriage' on any doorstep it's doubtful whether my views on the issue have affected the outcome of any election either way.

However, whenever the subject has come up for discussion with other Conservatives, I would say that my outlook has been very far from unusual.

As a matter of fact I recall a conversation with the then National Chairman of the Tory Reform Group who confided 'I'm a bit of a homophobe'.

The party is as it is, and the grassroots will not suddenly change their views simply because you think they should be coerced into doing so.

That's the Labour way.

Trad Tory - Isn't it funny how you finish by saying that's the 'Labour way'. Given that Labour have won the last three general elections and are 7 points ahead in the latest poll, do you not think it might be wise to learn a few lessons from them?

No doubt when you were an activist, gay rights were simply not as prominant an issue - but they are now so we must get with the times. Not just because it's politically wise to do so, but because supporting equality is the right thing to do.

You say you were an activist when we won elections, well, now we're not. So we do have to change in order to succeed. Normally, I find Cameron's approach for doing this to be wrong (as I'm sure you'll agree), but when it comes to supporting the government on gay rights issues, he's got it absolutely right and I am sure that the Tory grassroots are starting to wake up and agree with him.

Like I say, it will only be a matter of time before gay marriage becomes legal, so Cameron should take the initiative, be bold, and propose it before Brown does.

Traditional Tory: I find it difficult to comprehend people who think as you do, on this issue at least.

Do you really think that being homosexual is a choice? Its not. And as its not can you really say, with your belief in freedom of the individual and liberty, that it is just to deny a group of people the same rights as the majority simply because of an aspect of their personality over which they have no control?

The party is as it is, and the grassroots will not suddenly change their views simply because you think they should be coerced into doing so. That's the Labour way.

Well, it shut up their equivalent of the likes of you, Traditional Tory for the best part of ten years, so I'm not going to be so quick to knock it...

gay rights were simply not as prominant an issue

Gay rights are not an issue for the vast majority of people. You are falling for your own propaganda.

supporting equality is the right thing to do.

'Equality' is the negation of liberty. It is not, and has never been a Conservative principle.

I'm all for Traditional Tory airing his opinion. But I will not be belittled into thinking that supporting civil partnerships is somehow 'unconservative' in being imposed by New Labour or 'socialist' or PC. Thats the Conservative version of the use of the word 'fascist' often employed by those on the left to muffle or stifle proper conversation.

It is not 'PC' to support civil pertnerships. It is correct to do so in today's society and it is a mature and progressive stance to take and one that many Conservatives support.

Richard Carey - Well, it shut up their equivalent of the likes of you, Traditional Tory for the best part of ten years, so I'm not going to be so quick to knock it

Richard, am I reading this wrongly or are you advocating that people withn whom you disagree should be silenced.

Although I have little time for your Cameroon opinions, I had at least assumed that you were in favour of free speech and democracy.

Seems my confidence was misplaced.

And for the record, TT the very first civil partnership did not last long because one of the partners died of a terminal ilness after twenty or thirty years together. They are the people that rightly benefited from the bill.

Just to pick up some of the points Trad Tory has made:

The fact is - whether you like it or not - that your view has generally been supported by politicians on the left (not all) and opposed by Conservative politicians (again not all)

This is true - or perhaps more accurately was true. It is also true that Conservative politicians have in the past opposed equal rights for Jews, Women and other minority groups, as well as various extensions of the right to vote. I'm not sure if TT's traditional views are quite that traditional - but you never know.

the fact remains that the wisdom of the ages is firmly against you.

Using mercury to treat syphilis and burning witches both had a very long and distinguished history (indeed traditional?), to name two random examples. It hardly means that they have a part to play in party policy now does it?

Now we have a few johnny-come-latelies of the gay persuasion telling us that this is something Tories need to support. Funny they were so quiet about it before.

Funny - I'm a straight, church-going, guy who joined the party under Major - and I'm pretty much of the opinion that "gay rights" is something we need to support. I suppose you'd argue I'm the exception that proves the rule?

"And many, many homosexual couples 'produce children' either through adoption, surrogacy"

Yes, that's part of the problem.

Of course, this would beg the question as to what exactly your solution would be Traditional Tory? I won't put words in your mouth - but perhaps, if you would like people to avoid assuming you are a homophobe or whatever, you might like to explain what the 'problem' is?

Do you object to gay people having kids - perhaps you think the state or society should intervene to stop them? I'm afraid whatever the answer, I can't imagine it giving much support to your claim (I'm sure very generous) to be in favour of "tolerating homosexuals".

As a gay male atheist, I have a simple, rational answer to the issue of tax-allowances.

Apply them to children rather than couples. If an under-16 had, in essence, a "bounty" of £10,000/year income-tax-deductibility which could accrue to whoever had custody of the child [whether 'married' or not], it would support families without bringing god or gay-couples or other such contentious issues into the fray.

Of course such an allowance should be applicable only to the child's custodians who are in work or are in a legally-recognised relationship with someone who is in work.

Well Prentiz, the question of 'Gay Adoption' was fully discussed here some time ago and I recall that a majority were opposed, provoking the usual hysterical reaction.

Obviously one cannot prevent married homosexuals from having children.

I'm a straight, church-going, guy who joined the party under Major

Possibly the words 'under Major' give the game away there. I suppose someone joined the party when he was (allegedly) in charge.

Richard, am I reading this wrongly or are you advocating that people withn whom you disagree should be silenced.

Well, I was half-joking, Traditional Tory. Of course I agree with free speech as a principle, but I think you're being deliberately naive. In terms of wider practical politics, I'd be missing a trick if I supported my opponents in getting their message out, wouldn't I?!

And no, of course I don't think you should be silenced. Just a little more silent, some days...!

Up north they will be rolling their eyes and looking up to the heavens.

Posted by: "Dontmakemelaugh" at 17:42

Don't make ME laugh. As a ward chairman of a constituency in the northwest of England (with a huge Labour majority, unfortunately) I find that the members in our constituency are not at all homophobic. A previous chairman was openly gay and there are some members who are openly gay and play a full part in the constituency with no-one ever believing they are 'different' from the 'straight' members. One has been shortlisted to stand a council candidate next year. Our constituency party celebrate all members for the contribution that they can make to the Party, society and their country.

Speaking to an elderly happily-married lady member last week after a constituency function I was arguing that the tax break should be extended to 'civil partnerships' as well as marriages. She could not agree with me more and said that the Party should be arguing for an end to the distinction between marriage and civil partnership.

This is, and nor should it be, seen as a generational arguement. This should be a discussion as to whether as a party we want to be seen to be a One Nation party that treats all members of scoiety with dignity, does not discriminate and provides opportunity for all.

I suggest that Dontmakemelaugh is a southerner who hasn't spoken to any northerners to actually ask their opinions, but will generalise to try to back up their arguement. Unfortunately, some (perhaps 'many') in the Party (especially those from the south) seem to think that northerners are a different sort of breed of human to southerners and that we want different things. Having lived in different parts of the country (both north and south) the only detection in difference between us is that, generally, us northerners use different language to get our point across.

To me 'Gay Rights' is about treating people with respect and dignity - something I am sure the Church of England and God both approve of and actively promote.

Trad Tory - I think it is crystal clear to all that you are not tolerant of homosexuals, and sadly, you seem to think that's something to be proud of. I feel very sorry for you. But don't kid yourself that the majority of people in this party support such bigotry because they don't.

Equality is a conservative principle of freedom and liberty and any true conservative would and should support the right of gay people to have the same benefits under the law as heterosexual people.

Just a little more silent, some days...!

No problem Richard. I'm off to have my supper ;)

NT - Unfortunately, some (perhaps 'many') in the Party (especially those from the south) seem to think that northerners are a different sort of breed of human to southerners and that we want different things

Perish the thought!

I'm sure the late Bernard Manning would have gone down equally well in Notting Hill.

don't kid yourself that the majority of people in this party support such bigotry because they don't.

Michael I've been a Conservative a long time - possibly a lot longer than you - and I can assure that my views have never caused me any problem within the party.

I have also heard many far more extreme 'homophobic' remarks, on more than one occasion made by 'closet gays'.

Equality is a conservative principle

If you really believe that you have absolutely no conception of what Conservatism is.

Equality is a principle if certain types of liberalism (not all) and socialism. It is absolutely, emphatically, not a principle of Conservativism.

If you wish to keep repeating this mantra I suggest you produce some evidence for the assertion.

TT - I haven't met many northerners who thought Bernard Manning was funny. Those that I have do tend to be of the older generations, but most of them didn't really like his humour either. They do tend to be of the 'working-class' type though (of which I am proud to class myself as one) so perhaps not Notting Hill, but the East End? Dagenham?

Perish the thought indeed!

Trad Tory:

"Michael I've been a Conservative a long time - possibly a lot longer than you - and I can assure that my views have never caused me any problem within the party."

Well, they seem to be causing you problems now.

The most fundamental principle of the Conservative party and conservatism to me is freedom and liberty and part of that is the freedom to not be discriminated against because of the way you were born. I can't understand why you'd disagree with that.

By the way, I'm a Northerner and I deplore Bernard Manning (as do the vast majority of Northerners, working-class or otherwise).

I have also heard many far more extreme 'homophobic' remarks, on more than one occasion made by 'closet gays'.

Posted by: Traditional Tory at 20:50

Shows how much you understand the effect of your type of views have on homosexuals. They often utter such 'extreme' views because they want to feel that 'fit in' with the crowd. They don't want to be 'different' and be treated as being 'different'. Gay men and women are the same you and I, TT, do they not bleed when you cut them? That is why 'gay villages' in our towns and cities thrive - because gay men and women can go there and feel free to be themselves without having to conform to a expected bigoted view of the world. When society stops treating gay men and women as 'different' then they will not have the need to hide themselves and spout such 'extreme' nonsense to have to fit in.

As part of the right wing on this site I have to say that I have no problem with extending tax advantages of marriages to gay people in civil partnerships. The point of the tax advantage is to support stable relationships and relationship commitment both financially and as a statement of public policy.
This is every bit as necessary in the gay community where bath house culture was largely responible for the spread of HIV in the eighties. Many gay couples have children either adopted or as step children and these children would benefit from stable parental relationships too.

More contentiously, I would argue that much of the moral and cultural attack on the privileges of marriage since the Swinging Sixties has come from gay people in the media alienated by exclusion from those privileges and those voices need to be bought off if we are to restore the centrality of marriage to Tory social policy.

Am I getting this wrong? I thought the proposal was for a transferable tax allowance from a non working spouse or civil partner. If this is the case then it would not apply where both parties were earning and would mostly benefit stay at home mums and retired people. In the case of civil partnerships if one was non earning for any reason then they would be equally entitled to transfer tax allowances. In most cases both partners are working as are most married women so what on earth is all the fuss about. If it helps people bring up their children and retired people I think it is a good idea. Also helps where one partner is too ill to work. Unless of course I have got it wrong, enlightenment please.

"What a depresing survey finding. Sometimes I despair about the rank and file."
(Gareth)

Let's not forget that it's "the rank & file" who do most of the bloody work for this Party. Don't they DESERVE some say on what its policies ought to be?

"Trad Tory - I think it is crystal clear to all that you are not tolerant of homosexuals, and sadly, you seem to think that's something to be proud of. I feel very sorry for you. But don't kid yourself that the majority of people in this party support such bigotry because they don't.

Equality is a conservative principle of freedom and liberty and any true conservative would and should support the right of gay people to have the same benefits under the law as heterosexual people."

And on that logic single people should beentitled to the same tax break as married people? After all, we don't want to moralise about a life style choice do we?

COMMENT OVERWRITTEN BY THE EDITOR.

*Not Tory T. Traditional Tory.

In his 1715 post Graeme Archer says “Gay people are a teeny tiny proportion of the population”. Therefore number of “civil partnerships” is very small, which means they must have very little impact on the issues that the IDS report addresses, and which sees marriage as a major key to answer to social breakdown.

However looking from another point of view, Mr Cameron has on various occasions pointed out that children do best when brought up by both Mum and Dad, and that society is founded on the care of children “by the man and woman who brought them into the world”. This presumably means children need both mum and dad and thus heterosexual marriage is the key. Therefore it is difficult to see how supporting “civil partnerships” meets the aims of the policy. Those who support civil partnerships, and certainly gay adoption, must do so for reasons other than the best interests of children.

Graeme Archer says “typically on Conservative Home, when this issue is raised, within about 20 posts someone says 'it's not just gays that are sinners, adulterers are as well' “ I’d go beyond that and say we’re all “sinners”. That doesn’t mean that there are no unchanging absolutes. The problem is that it seems that in recent years we are being told to accept the promotion of alternative lifestyle choices in place of centuries-held views on what is considered right and wrong sexual behaviour.

I am not in favour of outlawing homosexual practices by any means. But I see it as either somewhat of a mental illness... It seems incredible that so many good, moral, patriotic Tories went to their deaths in order to give us the freedom to behave with mind-boggling barbarism, self-centredness, and vulgarity.

I presume, Mr Milne, that you were also someone who objected deeply to Theresa May pointing out that we were once seen as the "nasty party" by parts of the electorate... Mind-boggling, as you might say. Rarely would I say this, but this is one of those days when I can't believe that you and I share the same Party.

IRJMilne thank you for an excellent post.

I only know of one 'Gay village' - I believe it is in Westminster. The place is over represented by vociferous homosexuals.
Homosexuality is, quite rightly, no longer a criminal offence, so why not give it a rest boys? Some of us and most of the general public are never going to accept that homosexuality is of the same value to society as heterosexuality. Sorry boys and girls, but there it is. I agree with TT. IDS was obviously wasting his time.

I presume, Mr Milne, that you were also someone who objected deeply to Theresa May pointing out that we were once seen as the "nasty party" by parts of the electorate... Mind-boggling, as you might say. Rarely would I say this, but this is one of those days when I can't believe that you and I share the same Party

Posted by: Richard Carey | July 16, 2007 at 23:45

Theresa May had her self indulgent Ratner moment and did the Tories great damage from which they have still not recovered.
You will be pleased to know that it is unlikely that you or I will, in the near future, ever share the same Party.

Good night and sweet dreams.

IRJMilne, your post and your rargumentwas extraordinarily bizarre. I would comment further but truth be told I wouldn't know where to start. I presume that you are suggesting that gay people are 'selfish'. I would wonder what in your mind would be a 'selfless' act by gay people? Repress it?

The fact that you regard it as a 'mental illness' is somewhat odd as those who are best qualified to make that assessment have stated in circles for over 50 years that it is not a mental condition nor responds to any attempt at reconditioning. Had you not allowed personal prejudice to creep into your post it may have been taken somewhat more seriously.

A terribly confused discussion, it seems to me, mixing up the question of whether homosexuality is right with the (separate) question of whether homosexual civil partnerships are a useful policy tool with the (separate) question of whether homosexual civil partnerships should attract a tax advantage.

The question of tax advantages is *not* one of whether we think that a particular lifestyle option - incidentally - getting married or engaging in a civil partnership certainly is a lifestyle option; as is having sex with people within or outside marriage/civil partnership. The suggestion otherwise made earlier is plain silly, I'm afraid - that question is *not* the question of whether that lifestyle option is right or wrong. Presumably few of us think that being a monk is morally wrong? But how many of us would support having a special tax break for being a monk? (We might say that monks should be exempt from paying the Queen's taxes, as they are subjects of God rather than the Crown, but that's another story...)

Anyway, the point is that the offering or not of tax breaks is not a matter of approving and disapproving of anything. Who is going to say he thinks that being a widow is immoral? And who is going to support having a special tax break to support widowhood?

Whether homosexual unions get a tax break is nothing whatever to do with whether we approve or disapprove of homosexuality or of civil partnerships. It is everything to do with whether we want to actively promote such relationships versus their alternates. And I ask: Do we? (And I answer: Perhaps.)

Thank you, Andrew, for a typically thoughtful post that restores some sanity to the debate here. I felt obliged to wade in to the madness here, but set out my thoughts on the fiscal issuea as best I could on a previous thread.

Is this a forum for the Conservative party or the BNP because reading IRJMilne's post above, I would have my doubts about which one it is. Mr Milne should be thoroughly ashamed of himself, and that is not the kind of language I'd expect on this forum.

Editor, I'm astonsihed that you allowed such a post that said homosexuality is a 'mental illness'. This is a vile comment on par with supporting the Holocaust or saying black people are inferior.

I can tell you now, we have absolutely no chance of winning another general election anytime soon. We are not the 'nasty party', but sadly many people within it are still nasty to their core.

I agree with Andrew Lilico that whether we give tax breaks for same-sex couples is to do with whether we want to promote such relationships versus the alternatives. But I would have thought Conservatives would want to promote the lifestyle – traditional marriage - that IDS's study shows does work best for children and society, rather than concede to the liberal/left obsession with promoting every other lifestyle choice.

As for moral approval/disapproval vs civil partnerships and tax breaks for same sex couples as a mere "policy tool", maybe the centuries-held moral beliefs (now opposed by the liberal/left) about what is right and wrong sexual behaviour would contribute to the stronger families that are now thought to be the vital key to mending our broken society. But many would see supporting the giving to gay couples the benefits - including the proposed tax-breaks - associated with traditional marriage as undermining the centrality and importance of marriage in society.

As for Michael Davidson, this seems another attempt to close down debate, labelling as being "nasty to the core" those who dare to express an view that disagrees with the authoritarian liberal view on homosexuality. It is in the nature of democracy to be free to express an opinion however untrue it may be and however it may offend.

"Gay marriage" is part of the same 'New Hedonism' that brought us such people as Mick Jagger and the Sex Pistols.

It's with great joy that I read this sort of post. Really it is. It is the sound of the Neanderthal in its death throws. So grotesquely out of touch that its very touchstone of wrongheaded modernism is geriatric pensioner and a band that hasn't released a song in almost 30 years.

It's really rather marvellous to see them squirm, nothing new to offer, no ideas, only hatred. Can't even manage an appropriate analogy.

The news I'm afraid, Mr(s) Milne, is that the world has changed, and you have not. The Conservative Party is no longer a place where you can lurk, where your bigotry might receive a nod in exchange for a vote. We don't need you any more.

UKIP might pander to you for a bit - they do need the support - but even they see the change in Britain. Perhaps the BNP might take your fancy - I expect your views will always find a home there. But wherever you end up I take great pleasure that it is unlikely to be with my party. We won't need the votes of bigots to win the next general election - and if we did we wouldn't deserve to.

By all means, lets debate the policy benefits of supporting civil partnerships, or whether money should follow children. But everyone who cares about real Conservative principles should be very pleased that there will never be a real debate in this party about whether people's sexual orientations are right or wrong, about whether we should sit in judgement of them. Something IRJ Milne's post proves more eloquently than even the most ardent Cameroon might.

Phillip, feel free to shout your nasty, authoritarian, homophobic views from the rooftops if you please. But I will be exercising my right to freedom of speech by constantly being there to tell you where you are going wrong and why your views should no longer be tolerated in this party. Freedom of speech works both ways you know!

What the hell are you lot doing in the same party? It can only be a marriage of convenience, which isn't doing anyone any good (neither the various branches of the party nor the electorate, who have no idea what they are getting if they vote Tory). Why don't you stop living the lie, and get the divorce you so obviously need. You'll be so much happier.

"Phillip, feel free to shout your nasty, authoritarian, homophobic views from the rooftops if you please". I don't believe what I wrote was said at all aggressively, nor with the any hate to warrant this response. I think you may be accusing my views as being homophobic because I made comments induicatuing that some disagree with the authoritarian liberal view etc. and still hold a more traditional view.

"why your views should no longer be tolerated in this party." I rest my case (about attempts to close down debate).

Dontmakemelaugh: Some of us and most of the general public are never going to accept that homosexuality is of the same value to society as heterosexuality.

That sums it up nicely.

Our Saviour teaches us that we should hate the sin but love the sinner, and indeed that is what all we Christians must endeavour to do. It's sad but inevitable that our charity should receive so much foam-flecked spite from the preachers of selfishness and licence, but we must stand firm and turn the other cheek.

ANorthernTory, I fear, is a living example of the reason why the Conservative Party is widely regarded as a soft southern party ripe for extinction in the North. OTOH I must say that I have known many Northern Tories for decades and almost without exception they are of a considerably more robust constitution than this particular Bernard Manningphobe

As for Prentiz:

The Conservative Party is no longer a place where you can lurk, where your bigotry might receive a nod in exchange for a vote. We don't need you any more.

The man (Royal 'we'?) is living in a dreamworld. Give or take a few deaths the party remains pretty much the same collection of people with pretty much the same socially conservative views as when Theresa May parroted her twaddle about 'The Nasty Party'

It may well be that younger people are more sympathetic to this sort of 'diversity', but I have bad news.

Young people grow old.


Most of the bile on this thread derived from the exchange back at 16:58 yesterday:

"Peter Coe - Who says a marriage is a union between a man and a woman?

Ever heard of God, Peter?"

In that exchange, I blame Peter Coe as the provocative one, not Trad T who answered as briefly as one can without getting into long anthropological arguments. Further, people who have later questioned the main purpose of marriage being having children etc are equally deaf to the words handed down to them (if they are of Christian heritage) and heard so often at any Christian marriage service. The fact that there are similar traditions about what marriage is in most of the other world faiths shows that this is not just some strange Biblical fetish but something rather deep-seated. Those who were not brought up or educated in any religious tradition, and who may have steadfastly refused ever to attend friends' weddings in church, should get educated. Those who think that equality is more to do with conservatism than the traditional beliefs of Christian churches need to revisit 12 year old History as well as 12 year old RE.

Having got that off my chest, nonetheless I agree that this is a tax proposal, and should be addressed in secular terms. The fact is that very few on here have adduced any reason why it should be public policy to give tax breaks to couples (whatever their genders or marital status) who do not have the care of children or other vulnerable souls such as the disabled or elderly. It is suggested on grounds that one group of people think that a particular life choice is more valid than another and thus immediately leads to bad tempered debate because people will never agree about it.

So tax breaks should be for those married (and civil partner, although this will rarely be relevant) couples with children, disabled or elderly people living with them. The purpose is simply to make it a little bit more possible, in the marginal case, for one partner not to work (it can hardly be a matter of public policy to make it easier for one member of a childless couple not to work can it? Honestly?).

Those who complain that it should not be restricted to the legally hitched should consider (a) simplicity of establishing entitlement; (b) the need to encourage those who enter into a 20 year plus commitment to bring up children that (the rather lesser, in civil terms) commitment of marriage is to be encouraged, as an earnest of good intent towards their children. In fact, I think it is an insult to their children for any couple living together and deliberately having children, not to get married. (And I say that being conscious that not everyone thinks of the results as poor little bastards as I do);(c) the often mentioned increased likelihood that couples stay together if they are married. I know this may be a correlation rather than a cause but I still think it's relevant; and (d) the irresponsibility of the middle classes who do not marry towards their children if they should die as estates left to children (or unmarried heterosexual partners) attract Inheritance Tax.

The allowance should also be restricted to the basic rate. Those who have said that it can only benefit couples where one does not work are wrong - where one couple is a higher rate taxpayer and the other basic rate, there would also be a benefit unless my amendment is adopted.

Now, can we please read and in due course debate the other circa 180 recommendations in the IDS report please?

Looking at it in secular terms there is still a strong case for giving the tax breaks to couples in a legal commitment.

a) the legal nature of their commitment means they are less likely to split up and increase strain on the housing crisis.

b) the fact that they have chosen to make that legal comitment is symbolic of a wider attitude of respect towards society's institutions as whole. It is more likely to make them involved in community work, local life, charities, etc. It is a societal good - what Blair liked to call "the Respect agenda". To these spouses and civil partners the legal and therefore societal recognitiion of their union has value.

Society should reward that attitude. It promotes contribution and community cohesion.

3. Couples that are married and remain married, and this is very importantfor the purely fiscal Conservative, are far wealthier than single or divorced people or co-habitees. They pool their resources and therefore grow them exponentially. They buy better houses, they are richer consumers, they drive the economy. There is a very great financial benefit to married and civilly partnered couples staying together and contributing to buisiness wealth and the Exchequer - as well as bettering their own lives. For purely financial reasons, incentives for marriage are a good thing, just as encouraging people to own their own homes are a good thing.

None of these sound, solid and secular reasons depend upon the couples having children - only on the desirability of the legal commitment involved.

"Peter Coe - Who says a marriage is a union between a man and a woman?

Nullity of Marriage Act 1971, Part II, Section 9

TT - I haven't met many northerners who thought Bernard Manning was funny.

Oh but he was - he was a funny comedian with some good jokes. That is why humour once had people laughing and is now so so boring

Actually I'm in two minds about tax breaks for childless married couples.

Certainly marriage and Christian morality need to be supported but where you have a couple of yuppies both in work is it really appropriate to shell out funds which could otherwise go to the needy?

Clearly the same financial considerations apply to homosexual couples. Are we not constantly being reminded of the ‘power of the pink pound’? That one’s a no-brainer.

What we need to focus upon is the growing problem of co-habitees and illegitimacy. This is one of the great scourges of modern life, beside which the activities of our gay friends pale into insignificance.

By all means make it financially attractive for couples with children to marry and penalise those who do not.

It’s time for Conservatives to raise their voices in support of decency and Christian ethics. We have been silenced far too long by the PC brigade and their sybaritic hangers-on.

It’s time to fight back


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