Will your views on gay marriage affect the way you vote this week?

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

Categories: Elections, Marriage, Party politics

Tags: , , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. I’m defeated on this one. I imagined we’d have constructive conversation about the function of civil partnerships and marriage and whether or not they’re working. Instead we’ve unleashed an absolute storm of pent up ill feeling about marriage and its history, with heterosexual couples wanting a civil partnership, gay couples wanting to get married, everybody demanding ‘choice’ and ‘equality’, everybody taking it terribly personally when someone disagrees with their own view of what marriage should be. I suppose it’s healthy in a way that we’ve taken the lid off and let it all out. Either the politicians and the lawyers will sort it out and we’ll have a fairer society, or they won’t and we’ll have a legal mess, lots of families will suffer and lots of people will lose their jobs for saying the wrong thing. Either way, I’ve accepted that there’s absolutely nothing I can say that will improve on the current situation.

    • I agree Liz. I’m sure one of the government’s strategies was and is to disarm their opponents, partly in the hope that they’ll give up.

      • I’m not clear about whether it’s a strategy, as such, or whether people who support gay marriage are just so convinced that they’re right that they think anybody who disagrees must be motivated by bigotry. The fact is, all the moderates (including a lot of gay people themselves) who wanted to discuss whether there might be some differences between gay and straight relationships, and whether we might want to discuss this without all the loaded value judgments of the culture war, quickly shut up, leaving the field to extremists who think gay people are all pedophiles, or, at the other end, think offering people civil partnership rather than marriage is denying their humanity. There must be a train of logic leading to these kind of conclusions, but I can’t see it.

  2. Will my views on gay marriage affect the way I vote tomorrow? Probably hardly at all in my case. By voting for ANY political party, one is, in effect, “buying a package.” In other, words, some parts of a manifesto will be to my liking and have my full support. Other parts will be, to a greater or lesser degree, more unpalatable. Therefore I have to judge the package as a whole, and choose the one i feel best able to support across the board. Whilst I have views on the same-sex marriage issue, there are other issues where I find UKIP’s policies unsupportable. To raise this particular issue to a make-or-break status is to close one’s eyes to these other issues. I believe that the identification of the single issue of abortion in the US duriing the 1980s did great harm to the credibility of evangelical churches in their over-identification with the Republican party. UK churches, on the whole, escaped this by acknowledging that there could be good reasons for voting for (or against) all of the major parties and that no one party could be labelled “more Christian” than another.

    • Revsimmy I wholeheartedly agree, I oppose gay marriage but will vote for a party that supports it as there are many other issues, I don’t think Jesus would have made this one issue the be all and end all.

      • Thank you Revsimmy. You’ve put the point across clearly and I completely agree with you. I certainly don’t think one party is more ‘Christian’ than any other at the moment.

        Local elections really ought to be about local candidates and local issues and even though that shouldn’t stop us asking questions about a range of issues, taking single issue politics into this arena isn’t the best way to go about electing the best candidates to the role.

  3. Its a local election so i tend to vote on local issues. Many people use it to make a protest vote against the government which is not really what its for, though its easy to see why people are frustrated right now. I am much more concerned about the cuts and re organisation in the N.HS and economic inequality particularly with regard to unemployment. Although i believe marriage is best left alone its not a subject that should define us as Christians. I remain very concerned about how it may effect people in the workplace and the freedom to have an alternative view about it without being disadvantaged.

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