The whole gay/equal/same-sex marriage circus has fortunately died down a bit recently, although on Monday there was a vote at the Northern Ireland Assembly calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to legislate for same-sex marriage. It was defeated. Also published the same day was a letter to the Telegraph signed by a number of pastors and leaders of some of the UK’s biggest ‘black majority’ churches, rejecting the Prime Minister’s claims to be acting in the interests of “equality” and “diversity” by redefining marriage.
After the bruising battles in the House of Commons back at the start of February, I’ve had little appetite to discuss it further. My views haven’t changed and you can read them here if you want to. I’ve noticed that as we’ve been heading towards tomorrow’s elections, the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) has been encouraging its supporters to ask their local candidates where they stand on redefining marriage and sign a pledge to protect those who support a traditional view of marriage.
This week C4M have asked us to vote for marriage on Thursday and by this I’m assuming that means voting for candidates who disagree with the current equal marriage bill going through Parliament. For me that would mean voting for my local UKIP candidate. Given that the UKIP flyer pushed through my letterbox recently ignored local issues and mainly focused on the potential influx of Romanians and Bulgarians to the UK when working restrictions are lifted this year, I’m not so sure.
There is undoubtedly still a great deal of ill feeling towards the coalition parties over this issue. A new ComRes poll for C4M released yesterday found that 23% of voters are less likely to vote for the Conservatives because of their plans for marriage compared to 7% who are more likely. For the Lib Dems, 23% again are less likely to vote for them compared to just 4% being more likely.
With all the main parties supporting same-sex marriage, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest some people are moving over to UKIP (who are against it) as a result. Traditionally the Lib Dems were the party to go to at elections to make a protest vote, but now they are in government, UKIP have conveniently filled their place and their dramatic rise in support is surely a symptom of the level of discontent with the main parties for a whole range of reasons far beyond just marriage.
So what do I do? Do I care enough about the government’s marriage proposals to vote for UKIP, do I abstain or do I go for the candidates that I think will do the best job as local councillors? The thing for me is that though I’m annoyed and frustrated with the way the Government has brutally handled its approach to same-sex marriage, I’m very reluctant to decide my voting intentions over a single issue. If UKIP do perform well on Thursday night, all the main parties will be asking questions of themselves and same-sex marriage is very likely to come up in the media’s analysis. Based on previous statements and interviews, ministers most probably will dismiss it as a cause of any poor performance, at least in public. I doubt it will change many minds on the subject.
Marriage is important enough that it’s worth keeping the pressure up to make sure the government does as little damage to it and society as a result as possible, but I don’t think my voting choice this week will make much difference on the matter, especially if I don’t tell anyone why I voted a certain way.
I not expecting everyone to agree with me on this, but personally there are a range of important factors that will cause me to vote a certain way of which marriage is just one. Bearing in mind these are local elections, local issues shouldn’t be ignored at the expense of national issues that local councillors have no control over. Whichever party I chose, there will be some of its policies that I disagree with. That’s the nature of politics and as is often the situation, working out the least worst option is the name of the game. I’m sure that sometime in the future I’ll be voting for a party I’m fully committed to, but this time round it won’t be the case.
Image (c) Coalition for Marriage