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ENGLAND: Conservative Party Roils over Same-Sex Marriage

ENGLAND: Conservative Party Roils over Same-Sex Marriage
An Eastleigh by election could change the political landscape in England

By David W. Virtue
February 15, 2013

Britain's Conservative Party under Prime Minister David Cameron is deeply divided over his political push to make same-sex marriage legal, pushing it on to the national stage. Conservative MPs and local Party Association Chairmen warn that the gay marriage bill has "weakened" Cameron's position. Two-thirds believe the Conservatives are now a divided party, according to the exclusive YouGov poll.

Mr. Cameron had hoped extending gay rights would help shed the Tories' "nasty party" image. It did not appear in the Party Manifesto for the General Election or in the Queen's speech, but Cameron is determined to make a central piece of his political reform for England.

But there is considerable disquiet in the Conservative Party over the Prime Minister's project to introduce same-sex marriage. In the second reading of the bill in the House of Commons, a majority of Conservative MPs, some 134, voted against the bill, refusing to back him.

A Conservative Association Chairman, Ed Costello, resigned over the issue. A group of 23 Conservative Association Chairmen presented a letter to Cameron's office at 10 Downing Street on February 3rd protesting the bill and setting up a website Conservative Grassroots with a lead article that screams "Don't divide us over marriage." http://www.conservativegrassroots.org.uk/

Enter Danny Stupple. The Chartered Quantity Surveyor is an evangelical Anglican layman who has presented himself as the Independent Candidate in the Eastleigh By-Election on the platform of "Real freedom and Real Marriage". Rejecting the "out of touch" Conservative Party leadership, he is making a stand that marriage can only be between a man and a woman and wants to make it an issue in the upcoming campaign. www.danny4eastleigh.org.uk.

The Conservative Party's own candidate, a Roman Catholic who initially voiced her opposition to "gay marriage", has, since her first press report, reportedy been gagged by Tory Party officials who don't want the issue raised. The Prime Minister is deflecting that hot button by making immigration the key issue. The runoff is set to take place on February 28.

Christian campaigners for Real Marriage have noted that Peter Tatchell, the gay human rights campaigner, recently boasted that he gave Prime Minister Cameron the lines for his 2010 Conservative Party Conference Speech saying that he supported gay marriage because he was a conservative. Tatchell reportedly said, "I wrote David Cameron's speech for him. That line about 'I believe in gay marriage because I am a Conservative' came directly from what I wrote."

The Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne who resigned in disgrace had a 3000-vote majority. Both Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are keen to win the seat. Votes for Real Freedom and Real Marriage could make the difference and indicate to the Prime Minister that his Same-sex Couples Bill is a vote loser. Candidate Stupple is supported by the Christian People's Alliance and many more in local churches. He is a lay reader in an Anglican Church. He has a visible presence in the life of his church and is involved in several charitable organizations.

Stupple believes that at this time in UK history, the Christian faith offers the greatest hope of cultural change for the benefit of the people, in particular, the strengthening of the traditional family as the primary building block of societal transformation. The freedom of conscience in matters of faith and conduct historically enshrined in British societal development offers the way forward into a very diverse, equal, loving and free future for everyone, he adds.

Stupple is supported in his contention that marriage is as important to the future of the nation as climate change and poverty, by Baroness Ruth Deech who heads the Bar Standards Board.

The Baroness said the growing numbers of families without fathers is doing more harm to the next generation than other factors such as smoking, alcohol, poor diet and lack of exercise. She also warned that a conspiracy of silence surrounds the issue because political leaders are afraid to say married families are better for children than cohabiting families or single parent families.

"Politicians are now too afraid to offend single parent families", said Lady Deech. "Marriage is based on a public promise and evidence showed married parents were twice as likely to stay together through a child's early years as cohabiting parents. Children of single mothers have greater problems than those of cohabitee parents, and children of cohabitees have greater problems than those of married parents."

Lady Deech noted that those who favor cohabitation often say marriage is "only a piece of paper", adding, "It is clearly a very important piece of paper, nonetheless, of the utmost significance to life, equal love and happiness, say the gay community, when gay marriage is on the agenda." Other kinds of relationship are seen as less than marriage.

"Children deserve natural parents who are prepared to make the act of commitment and aspiration found only in marriage, in order to demonstrate to those children that they intend to be there for them, without question, as they grow up.

"The wedding ceremony highlights the fact that marriage is the strongest bond ever invented to link together two people and two families, for now and posterity - intimately, legally, politically, religiously, civilly and publicly."



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