When British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged his full support for equal marriage he made a very simple and very clear statement: ‘I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.’
Hoorah for the gay community, we all shouted, about time too! So why on earth, six months on, during a Conservative Party Conference fringe event in Birmingham this week, are we, the LGBT community, subjected to the vile, homophobic rants of vocal members of his party?
The question at the heart of the furore caused by Conservative ex-minister Anne Widdecombe and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey’s recent outspoken disapproval of gay marriage, is this: Can we call people who oppose gay marriage bigots? For me the answer is simple.
‘Bigot: Noun: One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.’
Anne Widdecombe asked the following question to a crowd of supporters at Birmingham Town Hall on Monday lunchtime (8 October): ‘Is it bigoted to recognize that the complementarity of a man and a woman in a union open to procreation is unique and cannot be replicated by other unions?’
Well, Anne, let’s have a look at my life… a life that where my union ‘replicates’ that of a man and a woman, almost identically. We fell in love. We brought a house. We entered into a committed civil partnership. We gave birth to two children. We are a family. We pay taxes. Both adults work and contribute to society. Both children go to school.
We are the most ‘traditional’ union that you could find. The only difference is that my partner is of the same sex.
So, Anne, the answer to your question is clearly yes, it is bigoted. You are intolerant to the fact same sex couples can procreate and lead completely ‘normal’ family lives. Not to mention the gaping flaws in your argument concerning straight couples who can’t conceive children naturally, or elderly couples who wish to marry with absolutely no intension of starting a family.
Lord Carey, the former head of the Church of England and worldwide Anglican Church, took it a step further.
He said: ‘Remember the Jews in Nazi Germany. What started against them was when they were called names. And that was the first stage towards that totalitarian state. We have to resist them. We treasure democracy. We treasure our Christian inheritance and we want to debate this in a fair way.’
So, does Lord Carey have a right to feel persecuted for his views? Again, the answer for me is simple.
Do racists have the right to feel persecuted for their views? No.
Do sexists have the right to feel persecuted for their views? No.
Do ageists have the right to feel persecuted for their views? No.
Do people who discriminate based on disability, class, or other ism that is degrading to a certain group of people, have the right to feel persecuted for their views? The answer is so simple: Of course not!
If you substitute the word homosexual for any other minority group you realize how truly awful homophobia is. ‘Black people should not be given the right to get married.’ ‘Disabled people should not be given the right to get married.’ ‘Old people should not be given the right to get married.’ It is so utter ridiculous that it beggars belief that these people even dare to say it, let alone feel they have a right to say it and not be criticized for it or branded bigots.
No one is suggesting Lord Carey be locked up in a ghetto or shipped off to Auschwitz. We are just demanding that homophobic rants get treated in the same manner as racist rants, or sexists rants: Condemned and ignored.
This is my life that these politicians are dismissing. This is my family. This is me. How dare they?